Former diplomat Bill Richardson has died at age 75, his associates said on Saturday.
Richardson was a veteran Democratic politician and a former US ambassador to the United Nations.
The former diplomat “passed away peacefully in his sleep” on Friday night, the Richardson Center for Global Engagement said.
Who was Bill Richardson?
Richardson was the US ambassador to the United Nations and then energy secretary under former President Bill Clinton. He then served as the governor of New Mexico from 2003 to 2011, and ran for president in 2008.
He is best known for the decades he spent negotiating the release of Americans detained around the world, and was famed for encounters with leaders of countries with strained relations with Washington.
In 1995, Richardson negotiated personally with then-President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, the release of two American aerospace workers who had strayed from Kuwait into .
In 1996, he negotiated the release of US citizen Evan Hunziker, who was jailed by North Korea on spy charges. He also secured the remains of American troops missing since the Korean War of the 1950s.
Recently, Richardson was involved in efforts that lead to .
In 2021, he helped negotiate the , who had been jailed by Myanmar’s junta.
A ‘career helping to free people’
“He lived his entire life in the service of others — including both his time in government and his subsequent career helping to free people held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad,” the center said.
“There was no person that Governor Richardson would not speak with if it held the promise of returning a person to freedom.”
The center’s vice president, Mickey Bergman, said: “The world has lost a champion for those held unjustly abroad and I have lost a mentor and a dear friend.”
“Governor Bill Richardson was a titan in New Mexico and abroad… one of the most powerful Hispanics in politics that this nation has seen,” Gabe Vasquez, who is a Democratic congressman representing New Mexico, said on the Platform X, formally known as Twitter.
sdi/lo (AFP, AP, Reuters)