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Madeleine Albright, first woman US secretary of state, dies at 84

Madeleine Albright, who fled the Nazis as a child in her native Czechoslovakia during World War II but rose to become the first female US secretary of state, has died at age 84, her family said.

The statement, posted to her official Twitter page, stated that Albright died of cancer.

“We are heartbroken to announce that Dr. Madeleine K. Albright, the 64th U.S. Secretary of State and the first female to hold that position, passed away earlier today,” the statement read in part.

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

Born Marie Jana Korbelova on May 15, 1937, Madeleine Albright was a native of Prague. She moved with her family to London just before Nazi Germany invaded what was then Czechoslovakia. After the war, the family returned to Prague.

However, upon the Communist takeover, the family fled to the United States as a refugee in 1948. Albright became a US citizen in 1957.

Albright was sworn in as the US first female Secretary of State in 1997, following Bill Clinton’s re-election as US president.

Before then Albright, who was a political science professor, had been a foreign policy adviser to several Democratic presidential candidates — including Clinton.

She was made the US ambassador to the United Nations in 1993 by Clinton, during his first term in office.

Albright “rose to the heights of American policy-making, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, the nation’s highest civilian honour,” the statement by her family said.

“A tireless champion of democracy and human rights, she was at the time of her death a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, part of Dentons Global Advisors, chair of Albright Capital Management, president of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, chair of the National Democratic Institute, chair of the U.S. Defense Policy Board, and an author.

“She founded the Albright Institute for Global Affairs at Wellesley College, served as a lifetime trustee of The Aspen Institute, and was a member of the chapter of the Washington National Cathedral,” the statement said.


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