U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday belatedly made a statement about the death of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, saying that throughout their careers they "often disagreed."
Many hours after other world leaders reacted to Kissinger's death on Wednesday, Biden said, "I'll never forget the first time I met Dr. Kissinger. I was a young Senator, and he was Secretary of State -- giving a briefing on the state of the world. Throughout our careers, we often disagreed. And often strongly."
In the concise statement to offer condolences to Kissinger's family, Biden added, "But from that first briefing -- his fierce intellect and profound strategic focus was evident."
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised Kissinger for his unparalleled contribution to American diplomacy over many decades, saying very few figures have done more to shape history.
In remarks issued a day after the former secretary of state died at the age of 100, Blinken honored Kissinger for making "countless history-bending decisions," adding that "to serve as America's chief diplomat today is to move through a world that bears Henry's lasting imprint -- from the relationships he forged, to the tools he pioneered, to the architecture he built."
"Few people were better students of history -- and even fewer people did more to shape history -- than Henry Kissinger," Blinken said in a statement.
He said Kissinger's "strategic acumen and intellect" remained crucial well beyond the end of his government service in 1977, as numerous U.S. presidents, top diplomats, national security advisers and leaders from across the political spectrum continued to seek his advice.
Kissinger, who served two U.S. presidents -- Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford -- died Wednesday at his home in Connecticut, according to his consulting firm.
Regarded as the most influential U.S. diplomat of the Cold War period, Kissinger is known for accomplishments such as opening relations with China, as well as paving the way for the United States to exit the Vietnam War and strike arms control deals with the Soviet Union.