World leaders mourn 'senator of senators' Kennedy

27th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

Edward Kennedy played a significant role in establishing peace in Northern Ireland, helping to smooth the negotiations which led to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

London – World leaders on Wednesday hailed Edward Kennedy as "a great American" and praised his tireless campaigning for peace and social welfare following his death.

"Senator Edward Kennedy will be mourned not just in America but in every continent," Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.

"He is admired around the world as the senator of senators. He led the world in championing children's education and health care, and believed that every single child should have the chance to realise their potential to the full."

During a 47-year career in Congress, Kennedy carved out a reputation as the leading proponent of health care reform – a cause which is being taken up by President Barack Obama.

Kennedy, who died aged 77 following a year long battle with brain cancer, also played a significant role in establishing peace in Northern Ireland, helping to smooth the negotiations which led to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

He was awarded an honourary knighthood by Britain for his efforts.

Brown's predecessor Tony Blair, who oversaw the Good Friday negotiations, praised Kennedy's "passionate commitment" to the peace process.

"Senator Kennedy was a figure who inspired admiration, respect and devotion, not just in America but around the world," he said.

"I saw his focus and determination first hand in Northern Ireland where his passionate commitment was matched with a practical understanding of what needed to be done to bring about peace and to sustain it."

Kennedy's great-grandfather, Patrick Kennedy, emigrated from Ireland in the 1840s, while his sister Jean Kennedy Smith was US ambassador to Ireland from 1993 to 1998.

"Ted hailed from a most famous Irish-American family, and through his own endeavours and achievement, he has added further lustre to the reputation of a great family," said Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen.

"America has lost a great and respected statesman and Ireland has lost a long-standing and true friend," he said.

Kennedy was also seen as a major figure in the fight against South Africa's former apartheid government, introducing the Anti-Apartheid Act in 1985 which imposed economic sanctions including a ban on new US trade and investment.

"He made his voice heard in the struggle against apartheid at a time when the freedom struggle was not widely supported in the West," the office of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, said in a statement.

"We mourn, with his family, and the United States of America, the loss of a champion of democracy and civil rights," it added.

In a message of condolence to Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described Kennedy as "an extraordinary personality in American politics" who had demonstrated a "firm and resolute commitment to peace and justice."

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi praised Kennedy as a role model for politicians while French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Kennedy had led a "dogged fight for democracy, social justice, civil rights and peace."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he was "deeply saddened" by Kennedy's death, recalling how they spoken of prospects for peace in his war-torn nation at a meeting in the senator's Boston stronghold in 2005.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on his way into talks in London with the US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, lauded Kennedy as a "great friend" of the Jewish state.

"Kennedy has been a friend for 30 years, a great American patriot, a great champion of a better world, a great friend of Israel," he said through his spokesman Mark Regev. "He'll be sorely missed."

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hailed Kennedy as a "great American, a great Democrat and also a great friend of Australia."

"He has made an extraordinary contribution to American politics, an extraordinary contribution to America's role in the world."

AFP / Expatica

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