First female US secretary of state dies


Madeleine Albright, a Czech immigrant who went on to become the first female secretary of state in US history, has died aged 84.


A long-time foreign policy veteran, Albright became America’s top diplomat in 1997 during the Clinton government.


Often hailed as “a champion of democracy”, Albright was instrumental in efforts to end ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.


Her death from cancer was confirmed by her family in a statement.


“She was surrounded by family and friends,” the statement said. “We lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend.”

Among those to pay tribute to her after the announcement of her death were former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, who later followed in her footsteps as Secretary of State.


“Few leaders have been so perfectly suited for the times in which they served,” the Clintons said. “Because she knew first-hand that America’s policy decisions had the power to make a difference in people’s lives around the world, she saw her jobs as both an obligation and an opportunity.”


Nato’s current Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said after the announcement that Albright “was a force for freedom” and an “outspoken champion of Nato”.


Former US President George W Bush said that Albright “understood first-hand the importance of free societies for peace in our world”.


UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted that the world “needs to stand by” Albright’s values “more than ever”.


Born Marie Jana Korbelova in Prague in 1937 – in what was then Czechoslovakia – Albright was the daughter of a Czechoslovak diplomat who was forced into exile after the occupation of his country by Nazi Germany in 1939.


She moved to the United States in 1948, the same year her family applied for political asylum, arguing that they were unable to return home as opponents of their country’s communist regime. She became a US citizen in 1957.