World pays tribute to Holbrooke; Taliban hopes for US roll back

They remembered him as "The Bulldozer", a US diplomat with such a forceful persona he could drag politicians, military brass and even warlords to the negotiating table in a quest for peace.

Updated: Dec 14, 2010, 23:54 PM IST

Brussels: They remembered him as "The
Bulldozer", a US diplomat with such a forceful persona he
could drag politicians, military brass and even warlords to
the negotiating table in a quest for peace.

World leaders on Tuesday praised US envoy Richard Holbrooke
for engineering the end of the 1992-1995 Bosnia war, Europe`s
bloodiest conflict since World War II, and for seeking to
bring stability to war-torn Afghanistan.

On the other hand Taliban said it hoped that the death of Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, would prompt the withdrawal of American troops.

Holbrooke`s death in Washington after suffering a torn aorta "could have a didactic effect on the American strategists, teaching them many things to learn," a spokesman for the Afghan insurgents said in a statement emailed to a news agency.

Even Holbrooke`s main opponent in the war in Bosnia,
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, expressed "sadness and
regret" over Holbrooke`s unexpected death yesterday following
surgery for a tear in his aorta.

Karadzic had been hoping to call Holbrooke to testify
in his genocide trial.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen paid
tribute to Holbrooke`s legendary diplomatic skills, saying he
played an essential role in the 1995 Dayton Agreement that
ended the Bosnian war and lauding his work in Afghanistan.

As President Barack Obama`s special envoy to
Afghanistan, Holbrooke realized "that we sometimes have to
defend our security by facing conflicts in distant places,"
Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement on Tuesday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani leader
Asif Ali Zardari also praised Holbrooke, who died at 69,
though Holbrooke`s style did not play as well with Karzai as
it did with Balkan leaders.

Aides said Karzai considered the American envoy
ignorant of Afghan culture. Perhaps as a result, Holbrooke
played a less visible role in Afghanistan, with Sen John Kerry
taking the main role in convincing Karzai to agree to a runoff
election in 2009.

"We will always remember...his efforts for promoting
peace and stability in our region, with a deep sense of
appreciation and gratitude," Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani said in Islamabad.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the
world should be grateful to Holbrooke for his contribution to
the international strategy in Afghanistan.

"We regret with all our heart that he will not be able
to witness the success of the new strategy," Westerwelle said
in Brussels.

Holbrooke earned the nickname "The Bulldozer" after he
bullied warring Serbs, Croats and Muslims to agree to end the
Bosnian war with sometimes risky diplomatic overtures.

PTI