Washington, Mar 23 (EFE).- Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as the United States’ top diplomat, passed away on Wednesday, her family said in a statement. She was 84.
Albright, a Czech immigrant who was secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, died of cancer in the company of her family and friends, the statement read.
“We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend,” the statement read.
Albright, who had three daughters with American businessman and news publisher Joseph Albright and continued to use her married name after their divorce, was born Marie Jana Korbelova in 1937 in pre-World War II Prague.
Her family went into exile in London after the German army occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, but they returned to their country of origin after the end of the war. During that time, she was sent to school in Switzerland, where she learned French and changed her name from Marie Jana to Madeleine.
Then, after the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia took power in 1948, the family moved again – on that occasion to the United States via London.
The future diplomat studied at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and at New York City-based Columbia University’s Department of Public Law and Government.
After earning her PhD in 1975, she worked for Democratic Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine and for Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as national security advisor during the 1977-1981 presidency of Jimmy Carter.
She later became a professor at Georgetown University in Washington DC and served as a Democratic Party foreign policy adviser.
After Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, Albright served as US ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 until 1997, when she became the 64th US secretary of state and the first woman to be appointed to that prestigious post.
As the face of US diplomacy following the end of the Cold War, she advocated for the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and vehemently defended an interventionist foreign policy in the Balkans in the late 1990s.
At the same time, she was a strong proponent of reducing nuclear weapons arsenals.
At the time of her death, the former secretary of state was still a professor at Georgetown University and the chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a consulting firm that advises clients on international policy and global markets and previously employed several members of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet.
Biden, who is currently in Brussels for urgent talks with NATO and European allies about the ongoing war in Ukraine, released a statement on Albright’s passing.
“Working with Secretary Albright during the 1990s was among the highlights of my career in the United States Senate during my tenure on the Foreign Relations Committee. As the world redefined itself in the wake of the Cold War, we were partners and friends working to welcome newly liberated democracies into NATO and confront the horrors of genocide in the Balkans,” Biden said.
“When I think of Madeleine, I will always remember her fervent faith that ‘America is the indispensable nation.'” EFE