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Lawrence Eagleburger, former secretary of state, dies at 80

(JTA) — Former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who also served as chairman of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, has died.

“I’ve done my damnedest for the Jewish people because I so deeply believe the United States was guilty of not doing much during the Holocaust,” Eagleburger told the Forward in 2001, after being accused during a congressional hearing of being too slow about distributing reparations. “Any hint of anti-Semitism in this world is an outrage of many proportions.”

Eagleburger served as the No. 2 State Department official under Secretary of State James Baker during George H.W. Bush’s presidency and was acting secretary of state for the last five months of Bush’s term.

During the Persian Gulf War, Eagleburger traveled to Israel as Scud missiles fired from Iraq were landing in the country.  

“We sent Larry to Israel to preserve our coalition,” Bush said Saturday in a statement. “It was an inordinately complex and sensitive task, and his performance was nothing short of heroic.”

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said in a statement: "A distinguished diplomat and representative of our country, Larry Eagleburger was a strong advocate for Soviet Jewry and steadfast supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also offered praise. Eagleburger "was a strong voice and stalwart champion for America’s values. His passing is America’s loss," she said. "Even in retirement, Larry remained a staunch advocate for the causes he believed in. He never stopped caring, contributing and speaking out."

Eagleburger died of pneumonia at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville; he was 80.

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