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Madeleine Albright, First Woman to Serve as Secretary of State, Dies at 84

Madeleine Albright, First Woman to Serve as Secretary of State, Dies at 84

Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. Secrtary of state and who helped steer Western foreign policy in the aftermath of the Cold War, has died. She was 84 years old.

The cause was cancer, Albright’s family said in a statement Wednesday. Albright was a central figure in President Bill Clinton’s administration, first serving as US ambassador to the United Nations before becoming the nation’s top diplomat in his second term. She championed the expansion of NATO, pushed for the alliance to intervene in the Balkans to stop genocide and ethnic cleansing, sought to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons, and championed human rights and democracy across the globe.

 

President Clinton released a statement praising Albright’s tenure in office. “Few leaders have been so perfectly suited for the times in which they served,” Clinton said in a statement. “As a child in war-torn Europe, Madeleine and her family were twice forced to flee their home. When the end of the Cold War ushered in a new era of global interdependence, she became America’s voice at the UN, then took the helm at the State Department, where she was a passionate force for freedom, democracy, and human rights.” At home with a positive case of COVID, Hillary Clinton, who famously followed in Albright’s footsteps, said she was “deeply grateful” for her friendship as she shared her husband’s statement on Twitter.

 

Haunted by the earlier failure of the Clinton administration to end the genocide in Bosnia, one of Albright’s most notable contributions was working to bring about an end to violence in the Balkans, and she was crucial in pushing Clinton to intervene in Kosovo in 1999 to prevent a genocide against ethnic Muslims by former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.

Tributes for Albright poured in from Presidents, Senators, and leaders from all over the world.

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