Madeleine Albright Has Died at Age 84

First female secretary of state had cancer
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 23, 2022 2:11 PM CDT
Trailblazing Secretary of State Madeleine Albright Dies
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright testifies on Capitol Hill, Oct. 22, 2009.   (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)

(Newser) – Madeleine Albright, the first female US secretary of state, has died of cancer, her family said Wednesday. She was 84. President Bill Clinton chose Albright as America’s top diplomat in 1996, and she served in that capacity for the last four years of the Clinton administration. At the time, she was the highest-ranking woman in the history of US government. She was not in the line of succession for the presidency, however, because she was a native of Czechoslovakia, the AP reports. Albright was born in Prague in 1937. Her family fled to Britain in 1939, months before World War II broke out, and moved to the US in 1948.

"She was surrounded by family and friends," her family announced on Twitter. "We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend." Her family said the cause was cancer. Albright remained outspoken through the years. After leaving office, she criticized President George W. Bush for using "the shock of force" rather than alliances to foster diplomacy and said Bush had driven away moderate Arab leaders and created potential for a dangerous rift with European allies.

In a New York Times op-ed last month, Albright warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin was making a "historic mistake" with his invasion of Ukraine. She recalled becoming the first senior US official to meet Putin in his capacity as acting president of Russia. Her notes from the time described him as "small and pale" and "so cold as to be almost reptilian." She also wrote, "Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness." (Read more Madeleine Albright stories.)

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