Henry Kissinger, a controversial Nobel Peace Prize winner and diplomatic powerhouse whose service under two presidents left an indelible mark on US foreign policy, has died at the age of 100.

Mr Kissinger died at his home in Connecticut, according to his consulting firm Kissinger Associates.

He had been active late in life, attending meetings in the White House, publishing a book on leadership styles, and testifying before a US Senate committee about the nuclear threat posed by North Korea.

Last July, Mr Kissinger made a surprise visit to Beijing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In the 1970s, he had a hand in many of the epoch-changing global events of the decade while serving as secretary of state under Republican president Richard Nixon.

The German-born Jewish refugee's efforts led to the diplomatic opening of China, landmark US-Soviet arms control talks, expanded ties between Israel and its Arab neighbours, and the Paris Peace Accords with North Vietnam.

Mr Kissinger's reign as the prime architect of US foreign policy waned with Mr Nixon's resignation in 1974.

Still, he continued to be a diplomatic force under president Gerald Ford and to offer strong opinions throughout the rest of his life.

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While many hailed Mr Kissinger for his brilliance and broad experience, others branded him a war criminal for his support for anti-communist dictatorships, especially in Latin America.

In his later years, his travels were circumscribed by efforts by other nations to arrest or question him about past US foreign policy.

His 1973 Peace Prize - awarded jointly to North Vietnam's LeDuc Tho, who would decline it - was one of the most controversial. Two members of the Nobel committee resigned over the selection and questions arose about the US secret bombing of Cambodia.

Mr Ford called Mr Kissinger a "super secretary of state" but also noted his prickliness and self-assurance, which critics were more likely to call paranoia and egotism. Even Mr Ford said: "Henry in his mind never made a mistake."

"He had the thinnest skin of any public figure I ever knew," Mr Ford said in an interview shortly before his death in 2006.

Henry Kissinger (R) with the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in 2019

With his dour expression and gravelly, German-accented voice, Mr Kissinger was hardly a rock star but had an image as a ladies' man, accompanying starlets around Washington and New York in his bachelor days. Power, he said, was the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Voluble on policy, Mr Kissinger was reticent on personal matters, although he once told a journalist he saw himself as a cowboy hero, riding off alone.

Harvard Faculty

Heinz Alfred Kissinger was born in Furth, Germany, on 27 May 1923, and moved to the United States with his family in 1938 before the Nazi campaign to exterminate Jews.

Anglicising his name to Henry, Mr Kissinger became a naturalised US citizen in 1943, served in the army in Europe in World War II.

He went to Harvard University on a scholarship, earning a master's degree in 1952 and a doctorate in 1954. He was on Harvard's faculty for the next 17 years.

During much of that time, Mr Kissinger served as a consultant to government agencies, including in 1967 when he acted as an intermediary for the State Department in Vietnam. He used his connections with president Lyndon Johnson's administration to pass on information about peace negotiations to the Nixon camp.

When Mr Nixon's pledge to end the Vietnam War won him the 1968 presidential election, he brought Mr Kissinger to the White House as national security adviser.

But the process of "Vietnamisation" - shifting the burden of the war from the half-million US forces to the South Vietnamese - was long and bloody, punctuated by massive US bombing of North Vietnam, the mining of its harbours, and the bombing of Cambodia.

Henry Kissinger with US pesident Gerald Ford, who succeeded Richard Nixon in 1974

Mr Kissinger declared in 1972 that "peace is at hand" in Vietnam but the Paris Peace Accords reached in January 1973 were little more than a prelude to the final Communist takeover of the south two years later.

In 1973, in addition to his role as national security adviser, Mr Kissinger was named secretary of state, giving him unchallenged authority in foreign affairs.

An intensifying Arab-Israeli conflict launched Mr Kissinger on his first so-called "shuttle" mission, a brand of highly personal, high-pressure diplomacy for which he became famous.

Thirty-two days spent shuttling between Jerusalem and Damascus helped Mr Kissinger forge a long-lasting disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

In an effort to diminish Soviet influence, Mr Kissinger reached out to its chief communist rival, China, and made two trips there, including a secret one to meet Premier Zhou Enlai.

The result was Mr Nixon's historic summit in Beijing with Chairman Mao Zedong and the eventual formalisation of relations between the two countries.

Read more:
Kissinger: Divisive figure who forged post-war US history

The Watergate scandal that forced Mr Nixon to resign barely grazed Mr Kissinger, who was not connected to the cover-up and continued as secretary of state when Mr Ford took office in the summer of 1974. But Mr Ford did replace him as national security adviser in an effort to hear more voices on foreign policy.

Later that year, Mr Kissinger went with Mr Ford to Vladivostok in the Soviet Union, where the president met Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and agreed to a basic framework for a strategic arms pact. The agreement capped Mr Kissinger's pioneering efforts at détente that led to a relaxing of US-Soviet tensions.

But his diplomatic skills had their limits. In 1975, he was faulted for failing to persuade Israel and Egypt to agree to a second-stage disengagement in the Sinai.

In the India-Pakistan War of 1971, Mr Nixon and Mr Kissinger were heavily criticised for tilting toward Pakistan. Mr Kissinger was heard calling the Indians "b******s" - a remark he later said he regretted.

Like Mr Nixon, he feared the spread of left-wing ideas in the Western hemisphere, and his actions in response were to cause deep suspicion of Washington from many Latin Americans for years to come.

In 1970 ,he plotted with the CIA on how best to destabilise and overthrow the Marxist but democratically elected Chilean president Salvador Allende, while he said in a memo in the wake of Argentina's bloody coup in 1976 that the military dictators should be encouraged.

When Mr Ford lost to Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, in 1976, Mr Kissinger's days in the suites of government power were largely over.

The next Republican in the White House, Ronald Reagan, distanced himself from Mr Kissinger, who he viewed as out of step with his conservative constituency.

After leaving government, Mr Kissinger set up a high-priced, high-powered consulting firm in New York, which offered advice to the world's corporate elite.

He served on company boards and various foreign policy and security forums, wrote books, and became a regular media commentator on international affairs.

After the 11 September 2001 attacks, president George W Bush picked Mr Kissinger to head an investigative committee. But outcry from Democrats who saw a conflict of interest with many of his consulting firm's clients forced Mr Kissinger to step down from the post.

Divorced from his first wife, Ann Fleischer, in 1964, he married Nancy Maginnes, an aide to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, in 1974. He had two children with his first wife.