A senior administration official has confirmed that Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Rep. for Afghanistan and Pakistan, died Monday evening following heart surgery.   President Barack Obama said in a public statement of U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke that he is, “a towering figure in American foreign policy.”

Holbrooke, who underwent a complex surgery just days ago to repair a tear in his aorta, has succumbed to the complications involved in the post-operative treatment.  Before this latest tragic turn of events, “he had a very serious medical emergency on Friday,” Hillary Clinton stated in a Quebec, Canada news conference, along with foreign ministers from Mexico and Canada.  She went on during that statement to say that, “he has received excellent care including many hours of surgery in the last three days.”

After an additional medical procedure to aid in blood circulation following the initial aortic surgery, Holbrooke remained unconscious.  The aorta is the main artery of the body.

In a celebration of Holbrooke’s life and accomplishments, President Obama reminded people at a holiday reception for U.S. diplomats on Monday that Holbrooke was “simply one of the giants of American foreign policy” and carried himself “with distinction for nearly 50 years.”  This tenure included a key role in the negotiation of the 1995 Dayton Accords that resulted in an end of the Bosnian war in former Yugoslavia.

Quoting the President, “As anyone who has ever worked with him knows — or had the clear disadvantage of negotiating across the table from him — Richard is relentless…He never stops. He never quits. Because he’s always believed that if we stay focused, if we act on our mutual interests, that progress is possible. Wars can end. Peace can be forged.”