NEW YORK: Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state whose unapologetic promotion of raw American power helped shape the post-World War II world, died on Wednesday, his consulting firm said. He was 100.
“Dr. Henry Kissinger, a respected American scholar and statesman, died today at his home in Connecticut,” Kissinger Associates announced in a statement late on Wednesday.
It said that Kissinger’s family would hold a private funeral, with a memorial service to take place later in New York, where Kissinger grew up after his Jewish family fled Nazi Germany.
The statement did not provide a cause of death. Kissinger had remained active even as a centenarian, travelling to China in July to meet President Xi Jinping.
China was one of Kissinger’s most lasting legacies. Hoping to shake up the Cold War fight against the Soviet Union, Kissinger secretly reached out to Beijing, culminating in a historic 1972 visit by president Richard Nixon and later the US establishment of relations with the then-isolated country, which has soared into the world’s second-largest economy and growing competitor with Washington.
After the Watergate scandal brought down Nixon, Kissinger served under his successor, Gerald Ford. In an unprecedented arrangement, Kissinger served both as secretary of state and national security advisor.
Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiations to end the Vietnam War, even though the conflict did not immediately end and his North Vietnamese counterpart, Le Duc Tho, declined to accept the prize.
Despised in much of the world, Kissinger as an elder statesman enjoyed the respect even of the rival Democratic Party, with incumbent Secretary of State Antony Blinken attending his 100th birthday party in New York.
“America has lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs with the passing of Henry Kissinger,” former president George W. Bush said in a statement.