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Memorial Hails U.S. Envoy Holbrooke For 'Making A Difference'

Richard Holbrooke's last post was as U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Hundreds of people have attended a memorial service in the U.S. capital for Richard Holbrooke, the veteran American diplomat who died in December.

President Barack Obama, addressing the gathering at the John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in Washington, called Holbrooke "the leading light of a generation of diplomats," and said he had "made a difference" in the world.

Obama said Holbrooke had a "hard-headed, clear-eyed realism about how the world works."

"He was not naive, but he also believed that America has a unique responsibility in the course of human events," Obama said. "He understood American power in all its complexity and believed that when it is applied with purpose and principle, it can tip the scales of history."

Former President Bill Clinton, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili were also among the dignitaries attending the tribute to Holbrooke.

Holbrooke died at the age of 69 on December 13 after suffering a torn aorta. At the time of his death, he was serving as the Obama administration's envoy to wartorn Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In a diplomatic career that spanned five decades, he was also known for helping negotiate the 1995 accords that ended the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

compiled from agency reports