First female US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, dies at 84
Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as the US secretary of state, died on Wednesday at the age of 84.
Her family announced her death in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday evening and said she died of cancer, adding that she was "surrounded by family and friends" at the time.
"We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend," the statement said, as well as a "tireless champion of democracy and human rights."
Albright, who reportedly fled the Nazis as a child in her native Czechoslovakia during World War Two, served as American ambassador to the United Nations from 1993-1997 in US President Bill Clinton's administration.
Clinton then nominated her to become the first female secretary of state of the US and she served in that role from 1997-2001.
She was fluent or close to it in six languages including Czech, French, Polish and Russian as well as English.
"The impact that she has had on this building is felt every single day in just about every single corridor," State Department spokesman Ned Price said of Albright, who was a tough-talking diplomat in the administration that involved itself in the two biggest foreign policy crises of the 1990s - the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
US President Joe Biden remembered Albright as “a force for goodness, grace, and decency—and for freedom.”
She “defied convention and broke barriers again and again,” Biden said in a statement.
"Working with Secretary Albright during the 1990s was among the highlights of my career in the United States Senate during my tenure on the Foreign Relations Committee. As the world redefined itself in the wake of the Cold War, we were partners and friends working to welcome newly liberated democracies into NATO and confront the horrors of genocide in the Balkans," Biden said.
"When I think of Madeleine, I will always remember her fervent faith that 'America is the indispensable nation,'" he added.
Former US President Barack Obama hailed her as a "champion for democratic values."
In a statement released shortly after news of her passing was made public, Obama said that Albright "helped bring peace to the Balkans, paved the way for progress in some of the most unstable corners of the world, and was a champion for democratic values."
"And as an immigrant herself, she brought a unique and important perspective to her trailblazing career," he added.
Birds of a feather
American journalist Don DeBar said that “George W. Bush also honored her as ‘an American Hero.’ Between the three of them, Bush, Albright and Obama killed more people in Iraq than Russia and the Soviet Union have killed since World War II.”
“So while we're talking about dragging people to The Hague we might start with the survivors of that set,” he said in a comment to Press TV.
Albright was born in Prague and came to the United States as a refugee in 1948 after a Communist coup in Czechoslovakia.
After World War Two, her father, a diplomat, and academic who opposed communism, moved the family to the United States where he taught international studies at the University of Denver.
Condoleezza Rice, the second female secretary of state in 2005 under Republican President George W. Bush, was one of the students of Albright’s father in Denver.
"It is quite remarkable that this Czech émigré professor has trained two secretaries of state," Albright told the New York Times in 2006.