Holbrooke critical after surgery for torn aorta

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 13, 2010 23:49

 
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WASHINGTON — Veteran US diplomat Richard Holbrooke, a special envoy to Afghanistan, remained in critical condition Sunday after surgery to fix a tear in the large artery that moves blood from the heart.

US President Barack Obama said in a statement that he and first lady Michelle Obama were praying for Holbrooke's recovery. He called Holbrooke "a towering figure in American foreign policy" who has been a critical player in developing the administration's policy on Afghanistan.

The 69-year-old Holbrooke underwent an additional procedure Sunday to improve circulation. The State Department said he received calls from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Holbrooke was meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton about mid-morning Friday at the State Department when he collapsed.

"Many people would have succumbed to that. Richard is fighting through. Anyone who knows him, and I was with him Friday morning before this happened, knows how tough and resilient he is and we're all praying that quality sees him through now," Obama adviser David Axelrod told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.

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