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Holbrooke remains in critical condition

Veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who is a U.S. special envoy on the Afghanistan war, was in critical condition after more than 20 hours of surgery to fix a tear in the large artery that moves blood from the heart.

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By Karen DeYoung
Sunday, December 12, 2010; 8:50 PM

Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration's top envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, remained in critical condition late Sunday after lengthy surgery for a torn aorta.

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Holbrooke was taken to George Washington University Hospital on Friday morning after experiencing chest pain. He was visited by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other senior officials, and his wife, Kati Marton, received calls Sunday from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. The State Department released a statement expressing the Holbrooke family's gratitude "for the outpouring of support and prayers coming in from his many friends, colleagues and leaders around the world."

For the past two years, Holbrooke, 69, has managed the civilian side of the administration's war effort in Afghanistan and its relations with Pakistan, now at a critical point as the White House prepares to release a broad review of its policy there.

Holbrooke, a longtime diplomat who has worked on some of the world's most intractable problems, was described Saturday by President Obama as "a towering figure in American foreign policy . . . and a tireless public servant who has won the admiration of the American people and people around the world."

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