Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger died at his home in Connecticut on Wednesday. He was 100.
The German-born American served as a diplomat, academic and presidential adviser, and continued to impact American politics in the private sector after leaving office. His stamp on U.S. foreign policy spanned decades and he was responsible – for better or worse – for systematically changing the standing of the U.S., China, Russia and others.
After the news of his death broke, dignitaries from around the world commented on his life and legacy, including current and former secretaries of states, presidents and foreign diplomats.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the man currently in the position that Kissinger held across two presidencies, said Kissinger ‘set the standard’ for being the senior U.S. diplomat.
‘Secretary Kissinger really set the standard for everyone involved in this job,’ Blinken said in Israel, during a meeting with Israel President Isaac Herzog. ‘I was very privileged to get his counsel many times, including as recently as about a month ago. He was extraordinarily generous with his wisdom, with his advice. Few people were better students of history. Even fewer people did more to shape history than Henry Kissinger.’
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo similarly said Kissinger ‘left an incredible mark on America’s history and the world.’
‘Henry Kissinger was a model of service and a great American,’ Pompeo said. ‘From the day he came to the United States as a teenager fleeing Nazi Germany, Dr. Kissinger dedicated his life to serving this great country and keeping America safe.’
He added: ‘He left an indelible mark on America’s history and the world. I will always be grateful for his gracious advice and help during my own time as Secretary. Always supportive and always informed, his wisdom made me better and more prepared after every one of our conversations.’
Former President George W. Bush also commented on Kissinger: ‘America has lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices of Henry Kissinger. He worked in the Administrations of two Presidents and counseled many more.’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement after the death of Kissinger, who he called ‘a great statesman, scholar, and friend.’
‘Dr. Kissinger’s departure marks the end of an era, one in which his formidable intellect and diplomatic prowess shaped not only the course of American foreign policy but also had a profound impact on the global stage,’ Netanyahu wrote.
The Israeli leader also described meeting with Kissinger just months ago in New York.
‘I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Kissinger on numerous occasions, the most recent being just two months ago in New York. Each meeting with him was not just a lesson in diplomacy but also a masterclass in statesmanship,’ Netanyahu said. ‘His understanding of the complexities of international relations and his unique insights into the challenges facing our world were unparalleled.’
He continued: ‘Henry Kissinger was not just a diplomat; he was a thinker who believed in the power of ideas and the importance of intellectual capital in public life. His contributions to the field of international relations and his efforts in navigating some of the most challenging diplomatic terrains are a testament to his extraordinary capabilities.’
‘His legacy will continue to inspire and guide future generations of leaders and diplomats,’ Netanyahu concluded.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and senior Chinese officials commented on Kissinger’s death and sent messages of condolence to President Biden and others after his passing, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday, Reuters reported.
Kissinger visited China more than 100 times, most recently meeting with Xi during a surprise trip to Beijing in July.
‘During his lifetime, Dr. Kissinger attached great importance to Sino-US relations and believed that Sino-US relations were crucial to the peace and prosperity of China, the United States and the world,’ said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin. ‘China and the United States must inherit and carry forward Dr. Kissinger’s strategic vision, political courage, and diplomatic wisdom, adhere to the important consensus reached by the Chinese and American presidents at their meeting in San Francisco, adhere to mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation, and promote the sound, stable and sustainable development of China-U.S. relations.’
During a news conference, the spokesperson said Kissinger made ‘historic’ contributions to the legacy of early China-U.S. relations. He said China would remember him for his ‘sincere devotion and important contribution.’
Kissinger’s impact across the globe is evident decades after he left office and his foreign policies continue to shape global relations.
Hungarian President Katalin Novák described Kissinger, after his death, as ‘one of those who shaped international politics and so, history, in the second half of the 20th century.’
She added: ‘A great life, a great legacy. His call to end the war in Ukraine through a peace deal crafted in negotiations remains pertinent even today. Rest in peace.’
Reuters contributed to this report.