WASHINGTON — Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, is in critical condition at a Washington hospital after emergency surgery to repair a tear in his aorta, the State Department said in a statement on Saturday.
Doctors at George Washington University Hospital completed the surgery on Saturday morning, and Mr. Holbrooke has been joined there by members of his family, according to the statement from the department’s spokesman, Philip J. Crowley. He did not provide further details.
Mr. Holbrooke, a veteran diplomat who helped broker the peace accord that ended the war in Bosnia, became ill on Friday during a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, administration officials said. He was able to walk out of Mrs. Clinton’s office to seek medical attention.
As the senior policy-maker on the administration’s most pressing foreign-policy issue, Mr. Holbrooke, 69, has been a highly-visible presence in Washington over the last two years. He has helped shape the civilian component of the administration’s Afghanistan strategy, deploying more than 1,000 diplomats and aid workers to help the Afghans rebuild its state institutions.
Mr. Holbrooke travels regularly to Afghanistan and Pakistan, conducting often difficult negotiations with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders.
Before his current post, Mr. Holbrooke was an investment banker, author and commentator. He has held an array of diplomatic posts, including United States ambassador to the United Nations, ambassador to Germany, and was twice an assistant secretary of state, for East Asia and for Europe.
Mr. Holbrooke began his career in Vietnam, where he worked as a staff assistant to the ambassadors Maxwell Taylor and Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. At the age of 35, he was the youngest person to hold the position of assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.