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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Putin remembers ‘outstanding’ Kissinger

The Russian president has described the late statesman as “far-sighted” and “wise”

Condolences have been pouring in from foreign leaders and dignitaries after veteran US diplomat Henry Kissinger passed away at the age of 100 on Wednesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said it was thanks to the American statesman that the world became a safer place back in the 1970s despite the intense rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union.

In a letter to Nancy Kissinger published on the Kremlin’s website on Thursday, Putin wrote that an “outstanding diplomat, a wise and far-sighted statesman has passed away.” He added that the former US secretary of state, who served from 1973 to 1977 under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, was considered an authority on international relations the world over.

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According to Putin, Kissinger played a major role in shaping a “pragmatic foreign policy line that… helped to diffuse international tensions [and] arrive at key Soviet-American agreements, which were conducive to strengthening global security.

The Russian president recalled that he had met with “this extraordinary man” on multiple occasions and that Kissinger would always hold a special place in his heart.

In a post on Telegram, senior Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky hailed the late US diplomat’s ability to “negotiate and even be friends with opponents.” Kissinger was a master of diplomacy in the “true sense of the word,” he wrote, adding that the former secretary of state did not resort to blackmail, sanctions, and threats, but was “convincing, constructive, and efficient.

Slutsky lamented that most US diplomats these days are conspicuously lacking in these qualities, concluding that Kissinger’s death marks the end of an “epoch of civilized Western diplomacy.

The statesman’s passing is also being mourned in China, where Kissinger is remembered for his pivotal role in making the détente of the 1970s between Washington and Beijing possible.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping, along with Prime Minister Li Qiang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, expressed their condolences to Kissinger’s family and the current US president, Joe Biden, the country’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

The ministry’s spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, described the late US diplomat as a “good old friend of the Chinese people” and a “pioneer and builder of Sino-US relations.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that the late US official had “shaped American foreign policy like few others.” He also noted that Kissinger had always “remained close to his German homeland” – a reference to the early years of his life in the country. His family fled to America at the height of the Nazi regime in the late 1930s.

The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, called Kissinger a “giant of history” who “had a long-standing influence on his time and on our world.

In 1974, then-Secretary of State Kissinger and Vietnamese diplomat Le Duc Tho were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the Paris Peace Accords, leading to the withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam. Critics accuse Kissinger of ordering bombing raids of Cambodia in the 1960s, claiming that the late diplomat could have been responsible for the deaths of several million people.