First female US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright dies at 84

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Madeleine Albright, a Czech immigrant who went on to become the first female secretary of state in US history, has died aged 84.

A long-time foreign policy veteran, Albright became America’s top diplomat in 1997 during the Clinton government. She died on Wednesday Match 23, in Washington and the cause of his death was cancer, her daughter Anne said.

“She was surrounded by family and friends,” the statement said. “We lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend.”

Among those to pay tribute to her after the announcement of her death were former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, who later followed in her footsteps as Secretary of State.

“Few leaders have been so perfectly suited for the times in which they served,” the Clintons said. “Because she knew first-hand that America’s policy decisions had the power to make a difference in people’s lives around the world, she saw her jobs as both an obligation and an opportunity.”

Nato’s current Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, said after the announcement that Albright “was a force for freedom” and an “outspoken champion of Nato”.

Born Marie Jana Korbelova in Prague in 1937 – in what was then Czechoslovakia – Albright was the daughter of a Czechoslovak diplomat who was forced into exile after the occupation of his country by Nazi Germany in 1939.

She moved to the United States in 1948, the same year her family applied for political asylum, arguing that they were unable to return home as opponents of their country’s communist regime. She became a US citizen in 1957.

Albright went on to work at the White House during the Jimmy Carter administration and later as foreign policy adviser to a number of vice-presidential and presidential candidates.

Soon after Bill Clinton was inaugurated in 1993, Albright was appointed ambassador to the United Nations – her first diplomatic posting.

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