President Barack Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke is dead at the age of 69. He underwent surgery Friday and Saturday for a torn aorta. The 69-year-old veteran diplomat, Holbrooke was in critical condition at the George Washington University Hospital at the time of his passing. Friday morning, Holbrooke became ill with chest pains during a meeting at the State Department with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Rushed to the hospital, the surgery itself was long and complicated, lasting some 21 hours. Both Secretary Clinton and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Envoy Holbrooke. But after this weekend, Holbrooke’s condition did not improve.

Sept. 21, 2010 - New York, New York, U.S. - Clinton Global Initiative-2010 Annual Meeting.The Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, NYC.September 21, 2010.Photos by ,  Photos Inc 2010.RICHARD HOLBROOK.K65963SMO. © Red Carpet Pictures

Richard Holbrooke was back in Washington as the Obama Administration begins it’s year-end review of the war in Afghanistan. Key to this is our relationship with Pakistan, which is why Envoy Holbrooke was assigned to both countries. According to reports, he became flush during his meeting with Hillary Clinton, whom immediately ordered Holbrooke to the hospital. Clinton insisted that Holbrooke take her private elevator at the State Department building. But while leaving from her 7th Floor office, Holbrooke collapsed while in the elevator.

The aorta which tore is a major artery that carries blood from the heart to the brain. Then returns the blood back down through the chest and abdomen. While details are still sketchy, it would seem that surgeons operated on Holbrooke to repair a tear in the inner wall of the aorta. This procedure is a difficult one which is why the surgery lasted 21 hours.

To repeat, Richard Holbrooke is dead at the age of 69. There is no word yet how veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke’s death may impact the annual review of the war in Afghanistan. Both Hillary Clinton and Admiral Mike Mullen had visited Holbrooke since his admission to George Washington Hospital after Envoy Holbrooke collapsed in an elevator at the State Department. Holbrooke had served as a diplomat under President Bill Clinton and was largely responsible for U.S. policy in the Balkans during the 1990s.

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 09: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (C) makes a statement regarding the killing of ten medical relief workers, with six Americans among them, in Afghanistan as U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke (L) listens on August 9, 2010 at the State Department in Washington, DC. The Taliban has claimed the responsibility for the killing. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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