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Diplomat Lawrence Eagleburger dies at 80

Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about American-European diplomatic relations on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 14, 2007. (UPI Photo/David Brody)
Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about American-European diplomatic relations on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 14, 2007. (UPI Photo/David Brody) | License Photo

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., June 4 (UPI) -- Lawrence Eagleburger, a veteran U.S. diplomat and briefly secretary of state, died Saturday at age 80, his family said.

Spokeswoman Anais Haase told The New York Times Eagleburger succumbed to pneumonia in Charlottesville, Va. He had endured various health problems for decades.

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Eagleburger was the only career Foreign Service officer to rise to the top post, after Secretary of State James Baker quit to head President George H.W. Bush's re-election campaign. He became acting secretary in August 1992 and held the official title for the last five weeks of Bush's term.

Eagleburger was a top aide to Henry Kissinger in the Nixon and Ford administrations, Jimmy Carter's ambassador to Yugoslavia and an undersecretary of state under Ronald Reagan.

He returned to the State Department as Baker's deputy.

"Larry Eagleburger was one of the most capable and respected diplomats our Foreign Service ever produced," Bush said.

"During one of the tensest moments of the [1991] Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein began attacking Israel with Scud missiles, trying cynically and cruelly to bait them into the conflict, we sent Larry to Israel to preserve our coalition. It was an inordinately complex and sensitive task, and his performance was nothing short of heroic," the former president added.

"Lawrence Eagleburger devoted his life to the security of our nation and to strengthening our ties with allies and partners," President Barack Obama said.

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