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Madeleine Albright, 1st female US secretary of State, has died

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has died of cancer
AP/Sait Serkan Gurbuz, file

Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. secretary of State, has died of cancer, her family said Wednesday. She was 84.

“We are heartbroken to announce that Dr. Madeleine K. Albright, 64th U.S. Secretary of State and the first woman to hold that position, passed away earlier today,” Albright’s family said in a statement.

“The cause was cancer. She was surrounded by family and friends. We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend.”

Born in Prague, Albright came to the U.S. as a refugee in 1948 after a Communist coup in Czechoslovakia.

Albright served during the Clinton administration from 1997 to 2001. A career in foreign government service ran in her family, with her father, Josef Korbel, having served as a member of the Czechoslovak foreign service as well as ambassador to Yugoslavia.

Her family remembered her as a “tireless champion of democracy and human rights.”

Among her accomplishments as secretary of State, Albright pushed the expansion of NATO eastward into former Soviet nations and helped to reach agreements on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons among these countries.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Biden had been informed of Albright’s death and will likely make statements later that day.

“The impact that she has had on this building is felt every single day in just about every single corridor,” Price said. “Of course, she was a trailblazer as the first female secretary of State and quite literally opened doors for a large element of our workforce.”

Albright remained engaged in foreign policy all throughout her life, continuing to provide comments on international affairs after she left the White House.

At the time of her death, Albright was a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and served as chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a D.C.-based consulting group on international policy that she founded.

In February, just days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was launched, Albright warned in an op-ed published in The New York Times that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be making a “historic error” if he followed through with an attack.

“Mr. Putin’s revisionist and absurd assertion that Ukraine was ‘entirely created by Russia’ and effectively robbed from the Russian empire is fully in keeping with his warped worldview. Most disturbing to me: It was his attempt to establish the pretext for a full-scale invasion,” Albright, who was the first senior U.S. official to meet Putin after he became president of Russia, said in her piece.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated at 3:22 p.m.

Tags Antony Blinken Bill Clinton Joe Biden Madeleine Albright secretary of State Vladimir Putin

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