Former Secretary of State Eagleburger dies

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 04, 2011 12:13 PM
Former Secretary of State Eagleburger dies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who served under George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s, died on Saturday at the age of 80, a spokeswoman for his family said.

He died in Charlottesville, Va., after a short illness, the spokeswoman said.

Eagleburger headed the State Department from August 1992 to January 1993, capping a diplomatic career that spanned eight presidents, both Democrats and Republicans.

President Barack Obama in a statement said Eagleburger had "helped our nation navigate the pivotal days during the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War" when he led the State Department.

Eagleburger entered the foreign service in 1957, but his career took off when he became an assistant to President Richard Nixon's national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, in 1969.

Self-described as a moderate Republican, Eagleburger was widely regarded as a tough pragmatist in foreign affairs.

After Republicans lost the White House to Jimmy Carter in 1976, Eagleburger was asked to stay on and served as ambassador to Yugoslavia in the Democratic administration.

He also served in the State Department during the Reagan administration, leaving in 1984 to become president of Kissinger Associates, a consulting firm founded by Kissinger.

Bush brought him back to government in 1989 as deputy secretary of state, the No. 2 job, even though he had not been a member of Bush's inner circle of advisers headed by Secretary of State James Baker.

Eagleburger became acting secretary when Baker left to run Bush's re-election campaign in August 1992 and was sworn in officially on December 8, 1992 for the last month and a half of Bush's presidential term.

In 2006 Eagleburger was a late addition to the Iraq Study Group headed by Baker and former Democratic Representative Lee Hamilton that gave a report on the Iraq war to President George W. Bush.

An avuncular, cane-carrying figure who suffered from chronic asthma and a muscle disorder, Eagleburger was a heavy smoker known as crusty, charming and wisecracking.

He named each of his three sons Lawrence -- but all with different middle names. Asked to explain that move he reportedly said: "First of all, it was ego. And secondly, I wanted to screw up the Social Security system."

(Reporting by Dave Clarke, Editing by Vicki Allen)