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By The Smartencyclopedia Staff &Agencies

Henry Kissinger, a key figure in U.S. foreign policy during the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, passed away at the age of 100 on Wednesday, as announced by his consulting firm.

Known for his influential role in orchestrating the United States’ withdrawal from Vietnam and fostering relations with China, Kissinger’s legacy is marked by both accomplishments and controversies. He was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize but faced criticism for policies related to Southeast Asia and his support for authoritarian regimes in Latin America, notably contributing to the ousting of Chile’s democratically elected president, Salvador Allende.

Critics have labeled Kissinger a war criminal, particularly for his involvement in the substantial U.S. bombing campaigns in North Vietnam and Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

As the Secretary of State under Nixon, Kissinger played a pivotal role in the historic opening of China to the West, arms control negotiations with the USSR, improved relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and the Paris Peace Accords that concluded U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Despite facing the Watergate scandal during his tenure under Nixon, Kissinger continued to serve as Secretary of State under President Gerald Ford, though he was relieved of his duties as the national security advisor.

Following Ford’s loss to Jimmy Carter in 1976, Kissinger transitioned out of government service and established a consulting firm. Throughout the years, he advised corporate leaders, authored books and remained engaged in public discourse.

Winston Lord, a former U.S. ambassador to China and Kissinger’s ex-special assistant expressed, “The world has lost a tireless advocate for peace. America has lost a towering champion for the national interest. I have lost a cherished friend and mentor.”

Born Heinz Alfred Kissinger in Germany in 1923, he immigrated to the U.S. in 1938, escaping the Nazi regime. Kissinger became a U.S. citizen in 1943 and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was married twice, first to Ann Fleischer with whom he had two children, and later to Nancy Maginnes.

Kissinger, who visited China over 100 times, was regarded as an “old and good friend of the Chinese people” by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin. Russian President Vladimir Putin also acknowledged Kissinger’s pragmatic foreign policy, noting its contribution to easing international tensions and facilitating crucial agreements between the Soviet Union and the United States.

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