Madeleine Albright, the first female US secretary of state, has died at the age of 84, her family has said.
Her family said in a statement: “We are heartbroken to announce that Dr Madeleine K Albright, the 64th US Secretary of State and the first woman to hold that position, passed away earlier today.
“Madeleine Albright, born Marie Jana Korbelova, was a native of Prague who came to the United States as a refugee in 1948 and rose to the heights of American policy-making, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, the nation’s highest civilian honour.
“A tireless champion of democracy and human rights, she was at the time of her death a professor at Georgetown University’s school of foreign service, chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, part of Dentons Global Advisors, chair of Albright Capital Management, president of the Harry S Truman Scholarship Foundation, chair of the National Democratic Institute, chair of the US Defence Policy Board, and an author.
“She founded the Albright Institute for Global Affairs at Wellesley College, served as a lifetime trustee of The Aspen Institute, and was a member of the chapter of the Washington National Cathedral. She was 84 years old.”
Ms. 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 with her family to Colorado in the United States from what was known as Czechoslovakia in 1948.
The former secretary of state led efforts to end ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
Ms Albright became a US citizen in 1957, later becoming an aide to Senator Edmund Muskie before taking a position on the National Security Council.
She was a central figure in former President Bill Clinton’s administration, initially serving as a US ambassador to the United Nations.
In 1997, she then became the country’s top diplomat when she succeeded Warren Christopher as secretary of state.
At the time of her appointment, Ms. Alright was the highest-ranking woman in the history of the US government.
She helped steer US foreign policy in the aftermath of the Cold War, advising Democrat candidates.
In May 2012, Ms. Albright was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then US president Barack Obama.