Henry Kissinger, a former US secretary of state and national security adviser who escaped Nazi Germany in his youth to become one of the most influential and controversial foreign policy figures in American history, has died at 100.
A statement from Kissinger Associates, his consulting firm, said the former leader died on Wednesday at his home in Connecticut. The statement did not provide a cause of death.
The statement said Kissinger’s family would hold a private funeral, with a memorial service to take place later in New York.
The statesman was a Harvard academic before becoming national security adviser when Richard Nixon became US president in 1968.
Kissinger, who turned 100 in May, had remained active even as a centenarian, travelling to China in July to meet President Xi Jinping.
He received a Nobel Peace Prize for helping arrange the end of US military involvement in the Vietnam War and is credited with secret diplomacy that helped former President Richard Nixon open communist China to the US and the West, highlighted by Nixon’s visit to the country in 1972.
In the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Kissinger deployed “shuttle diplomacy” to de-escalate tensions and facilitate the separation of Israeli and Arab forces in the Middle East.
His “détente” approach, which aimed to ease tensions and promote arms control agreements, not only profoundly influenced US foreign policy until the Ronald Reagan era, but also thawed relations with the Soviet Union and China.
But Kissinger, who many saw as a brilliant statesman, was also condemned by some as a war criminal.
Working closely with Nixon, he was influential in momentous decisions, including the secret bombing of Cambodia in 1969 and 1970 and was reviled by many for his support of a coup against a democratic government in Chile.
The former security chief had also supported Indonesia, a close anti-communist ally, as it seized east Timor in 1975.
More than 100,000 East Timorese died at the beginning of the invasion — launched one day after Kissinger and Gerald Ford, former US president, met the Indonesian leader — until the Asian country ended its invasion in 1999.
“America has lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs with the passing of Henry Kissinger,” former US President George Bush said in a statement.
Kissinger is survived by Nancy, his wife of nearly 50 years, two children from a previous marriage, and five grandchildren, his consulting firm said