Last Soviet President Gorbachev, World Leaders Eulogize George H.W. Bush

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FILE PHOTO: Then-U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev in a joint press conference in Moscow, July 31, 1991
FILE PHOTO: Then-U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev in a joint press conference in Moscow, July 31, 1991Credit: AFP

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, on Saturday hailed the late George H.W. Bush's role in helping end the Cold War and an arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. 

Gorbachev, 87, was speaking after Bush, the 41st president of the United States, died on Friday at the age of 94

Bush held talks with Gorbachev before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and signed a landmark arm control agreement with him that significantly cut both countries' nuclear arsenals. 

"Many of my memories are linked to him. We happened to work together in years of great changes. It was a dramatic time demanding huge responsibility from everyone. The result was the end of the Cold War and the nuclear arms race," Russia's Interfax news agency cited Gorbachev as saying. 

"I pay tribute to George Bush's contribution towards this historic achievement. He was a genuine partner." 

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences "for the passing away of a great American patriot, whose responsible and wise leadership after the Cold War secured the expansion of democracies while preserving world peace."

Israel's President Reuven Rivlin said "the Jewish people will always remember his support in bringing Ethiopian Jews to Israel and his resolve to make Arab countries recognize Israel's right to exist in peace and security."

Several other prominent figures, including incumbent and past world leaders, paid their respects to Bush, who was often dubbed "41" to distinguish him from his son, George W. Bush, the 43rd American president.

FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter with President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in WashingtonCredit: J. Scott Applewhite,AP

Former U.S. President Barack Obama said that Bush's "life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey."

Bush's eldest son, George W., called his father "a man of the highest character. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41's life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad."

In a written statement, U.S. President Donald Trump commended his antecedent for "his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country."

"President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service to be, in his words, 'a thousand points of light' illuminating the greatness, hope, and opportunity of America to the world," read the statement.

Trump also later tweeted that Bush was "a truly wonderful man."

Bill Clinton, who beat Bush in the 1992 presidential elections, said he will "be forever grateful for the friendship we formed. From the moment I met him as a young governor invited to his home in Kennebunkport, I was struck by the kindness he showed to Chelsea, by his innate and genuine decency, and by his devotion to Barbara, his children, and their growing brood."

Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, the ruling emir of Kuwait, said Bush tried to "create a new international order based on justice and equality among nations," and added that the former president will remain in the memory of Kuwaiti people.

British Prime Minister Theresa May called Bush a "great statesman and a true friend of our country," whose "ethos of public service was the guiding thread of his life and an example to us all ... in navigating a peaceful end to the Cold War he made the world a safer place for generations to come."

"We are mourning a great statesman and a friend of Germany," said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, praising Bush for the way he "courageously seized the opportunity to end the Cold War ... he is also an architect of German unity. He supported it from the beginning without reservations. We will never forget that."

Writing to George W., Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama recalled his first meeting with the former president. "He was in fact the first American President that I was privileged to meet."

The Dalai Lama said he was "deeply touched" by Bush's concern for the Tibetan people and the situation in Tibet. "It is truly admirable to have lived over 94 years. While nothing can replace the loss of a father, we can rejoice in the fact that his was a meaningful life, dedicated to public service."

Talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres also paid homage to Bush on Saturday, tweeting: "I will never forget George H.W. Bush and President Clinton meeting me in my old hometown of New Orleans to show support and raise money after Hurricane Katrina. I send my love to his family tonight."

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