Sunday 21 January 2018

Diplomat's final words to world -- please stop Afghan war

Toby Harnden in Washington

The final words of Richard Holbrooke, the top American diplomat who died on Monday, were: "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan," his family has disclosed.

President Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan spoke the words to his Pakistani surgeon as he was sedated for an operation.

Mr Holbrooke (69) died of complications from a torn aorta after feeling ill during a meeting with Hillary Clinton last week.

His unexpected death leaves a gaping void at the top of Mr Obama's Afghanistan team at a crucial juncture as the White House finalises its review of the year-old Afghan "surge" strategy.

Before his death, senior figures in the Obama administration had questioned whether Mr Holbrooke's forthright style was suited to dealing with Afghans and Pakistanis.

Death

He had a notably fractious relationship with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, whom he regarded as corrupt and unreliable.

Mr Karzai, however, described Mr Holbrooke's death as "a big loss for the American people".

Mr Obama described Mr Holbrooke as "a true giant of American foreign policy" and said he was "a truly unique figure who will be remembered for his tireless diplomacy, love of country and pursuit of peace".

William Hague, Britain's Foreign Secretary, said that Mr Holbrooke was "truly one of the best and the brightest of his generation" who served the US "with distinction and integrity".

Mr Holbrooke will be best remembered for his broking of the Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia, the 15th anniversary of which fell yesterday.

His dealings in Bosnia led to controversy last year when Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, told a UN war crimes tribunal that Mr Holbrooke had promised him immunity in return for leaving public life.

Mr Holbrooke denied this. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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