Warren Christopher, overseer of Mideast talks, dies


(JTA) — Warren Christopher, the U.S. Secretary of State whose intensive shuttling shepherded talks with Syria, Jordan and the Palestinians in the mid-1990s, has died.

Christopher died March 18 at home in Los Angeles of complications from cancer. He was 85.

As secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, Christopher traveled to the Middle East 18 times in an effort to bring peace to the region.

Christopher pressed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and oversaw the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat in 1993.

Christopher also shepherded negotiations between Israel and Jordan, and attended the signing of a peace treaty between the two countries in 1994. He also worked to achieve peace between Israel and Syria.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Christopher a "dear friend" in a statement released over the weekend.

"Warren was a diplomat’s diplomat — talented, dedicated and exceptionally wise," she said. "As well as anyone in his generation, he understood the subtle interplay of national interests, fundamental values and personal dynamics that drive diplomacy. America is safer and the world is more peaceful because of his service."

President Obama called Christopher a "resolute pursuer of peace," as well as "a skillful diplomat, a steadfast public servant and a faithful American."

Christopher "brought his strong intellect to bear on such pressing problems as the Iran hostage crisis, Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiations, the Bosnian war, and racial tensions in Los Angeles," said U.S. Rep. Howard Berman, the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

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