U.S. President Barack Obama credited Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan who died on Monday evening at age 69, with playing a large role in moving forward in the region and in creating a more secure world over the past half century.

“The progress that we have made in Afghanistan and Pakistan is due in no small measure to Richards relentless focus on Americas national interest, and pursuit of peace and security,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “He understood, in his life and his work, that our interests encompassed the values that we hold so dear.” Holbrooke died after collapsing on Friday and undergoing 20 hours of surgery for a ruptured aorta. He was appointed special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan after Mr. Obama took office in early 2009.

Mr. Obama noted that Holbrooke was the child of refugees who “devoted himself to the plight of people displaced around the world.” “Tonight, there are millions of people around the world whose lives have been saved and enriched by his work,” Mr. Obama said of the broker of the 1995 peace accord in Bosnia.

“The United States is safer and the world is more secure because of the half century of patriotic service of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke,” Mr. Obama said.

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