Bush and Blair lead tributes to Colin Powell after death aged 84

18 October 2021, 19:06 | Updated: 18 October 2021, 20:37

George W Bush pictured with Colin Powell in 2002
George W Bush pictured with Colin Powell in 2002. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Former US president George W Bush has led tributes to Colin Powell, the first African-American secretary of state, following his death aged 84.

Mr Powell died from Covid-19 complications, his family announced on Monday.

"We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father and grandfather and a great American," the family said.

Mr Bush, who selected Mr Powell to be secretary of state after winning the 2000 presidential election, described Mr Powell as a "great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam."

He served under four presidents and "was such a favourite of presidents that he earned the presidential medal of freedom - twice", Mr Bush said.

He added: "Most important, Colin was a family man and a friend."

President Joe Biden called him a "dear friend and a patriot of unmatched honor and dignity".

He said: "Time and time again, he put country before self, before party, before all else - in uniform and out - and it earned him the universal respect of the American people."

Former prime minister Tony Blair, who worked closely with Mr Powell in the early years of the Iraq War, said he was "someone of immense capability and integrity, a hugely likeable and warm personality and a great companion, with a lovely and self-deprecating sense of humour."

"He was wonderful to work with, he inspired loyalty and respect and was one of those leaders who always treated those under them with kindness and concern", he added.

Mr Bush's vice president Dick Cheney said: "General Powell had a remarkably distinguished career, and I was fortunate to work with him. He was a man who loved his country and served her long and well."

He added: "Colin was a trailblazer and role model for so many: the son of immigrants who rose to become national security advisor, chairman of the joint chiefs, and secretary of state."

Condoleezza Rice, who was Mr Powell's successor as secretary of state and the first black woman in the role, said he was "a truly great man".

President Biden's secretary of state Anthony Blinken added: "Colin Powell dedicated his extraordinary life to public service because he never stopped believing in America, and we believe in America, in no small part, because if helped produce someone like Colin Powell."