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George HW Bush passes away; Bill Clinton mourns loss of friend, Obama praises stellar public service record

Former US president George HW Bush, who helped steer America through the end of the Cold War, has died at age 94, his family announced late Friday.

"Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died," his son, former president George W Bush, said in a statement released on Twitter by a family spokesman.

"George HW Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for."

At 94 years and 172 days, Bush was the longest-lived president in US history. He is also the first former president to pass away since Gerald Ford in 2006. A World War II hero, Bush senior served his nation as President, Vice President, CIA Director, UN ambassador, envoy to China, and congressman.

Tributes poured in for the war veteran from former presidents and international community.

Former President Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush in the race of presidency in 1992, remembered him for his "great long life of service, love and friendship." In a statement issued early Saturday, Clinton said he would be "forever grateful" for the friendship he formed with the man he turned out of the White House after one term. Clinton says he was always struck by Bush's "innate and genuine decency" and by his devotion to his wife Barbara and his family. Clinton adds that Bush never stopped serving even after leaving office, working on tsunami relief in Asia and within the US after Hurricane Katrina. The two former presidents worked together on those relief efforts.

The office of former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama said Bush's life was "a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey."

The Obamas credited him with "expanding America's promise to new immigrants and people with disabilities. Reducing the scourge of nuclear weapons and building a broad international coalition to expel a dictator from Kuwait. And when democratic revolutions bloomed across Eastern Europe, it was his steady, diplomatic hand that made possible an achievement once thought anything but - ending the Cold War without firing a shot."

They said: "It's a legacy of service that may never be matched, even though he'd want all of us to try."

The incumbent, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump also mourned the passing of Bush. In a statement, the Trumps praised Bush for his "sound judgment, common sense and unflappable leadership." The Trumps said that Bush "inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service." They also praise the former president for guiding the nation and the world to a "peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War."

The Trumps add that Bush remained humble despite his accomplishments, "following the quiet call to service that gave him a clear sense of direction."

Bush's secretary of state and long time confidante, James A Baker III, said his friend's legacy "will be forever etched in the history of America and the world." He noted Bush's "lifelong record of selfless patriotic service to our nation," from being the youngest US Navy aviator in World War II to serving as a Texas congressman, United Nations ambassador, the first U.S. ambassador to China, CIA director, vice president and president.

In a statement, Baker said that in each position, Bush "led with strength, integrity, compassion and humility — characteristics that define a truly great man and effective leader." Baker added that, "with a singularly unique consistency, he always demonstrated these traits, whether on the global stage or interacting with people in his everyday life. His passion was a deep love of family and our country."

Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser during Bush's presidency, said "The world has lost a great leader" and "this country has lost one of its best." Scowcroft said in a statement that he was "heartbroken" at losing a man a man he called "one of my dearest friends."

Iran took note of the death of Bush. A scrolling news bar on state television described Bush as being "like other US presidents who wished to see the collapse of the Islamic Republic." State television on Saturday morning announced Bush's death, citing international reports.

Iran remained suspicious of Bush despite his pledge of "good will begets good will." Iran leaned on Lebanon's Shiite militants to help win the release American hostages like Terry Anderson of The Associated Press, but relations went no further. One of Bush's last acts as president was pardoning former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and others for their role in the Iran-Contra scandal, an offshoot of those hostage crises.



With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Dec 01, 2018 14:56:16 IST