He was the No. 2 State Department official under Secretary of State James A. Baker III for most of Bush’s presidency and became acting secretary of state during the final five months of Bush’s term. He was officially named secretary of state in December 1992, after Bush had lost the presidential election to Bill Clinton.
During the Persian Gulf War of the early 1990s, Mr. Eagleburger undertook several delicate missions to Israel and the Middle East as Iraq was firing Scud missiles into Israeli territory.
“We sent Larry to Israel to preserve our coalition,” Bush said Saturday in a statement. “It was an inordinately complex and sensitive task, and his performance was nothing short of heroic.”
Bush called Eagleburger “one of the most capable and respected diplomats our Foreign Service ever produced.”
Mr. Eagleburger first worked with Kissinger in 1968 on the Nixon transition team. In the early 1970s, he had a stint with NATO in Brussels and was an international affairs specialist at the Defense Department.
After Kissinger became secretary of state in 1973, Mr. Eagleburger was put in charge of managing his schedule and staff. For several years in the 1980s, Mr. Eagleburger was president of Kissinger Associates, offering advice on international affairs to corporations.
“He was a close friend, a great public servant and the best kind of Foreign Service officer,” Kissinger said Saturday in an interview. “He had a tremendous sense of humor, which helped bring a sense of proportion to diplomacy.”
Sometimes called Kissinger’s “hatchet man,” Mr. Eagleburger retained the respect of career diplomats and Capitol Hill lawmakers for his wide experience and independent mind.
“He is Kissinger without [the] warts, in my view, Kissinger with a clearer moral compass,” Vice President Biden, then a Democratic senator from Delaware, told National Journal in 1992.
After leaving the State Department, Mr. Eagleburger was an international adviser to the Washington law firm led by former Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) and was a member of the Iraq Study Group, which sought a diplomatic solution to the war in Iraq.
As chairman of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, Mr. Eagleburger had a contentious exchange with Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) at a 2001 congressional hearing about the slow pace of reparations to victims of the Holocaust.
“Don’t you tell me that I’m disdainful of these people who have suffered so much,” Mr. Eagleburger shouted at Waxman.