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Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush dies at 94

Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush, who as American leader declared the end of the Cold War with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s and ushered in an era of rapprochement between the superpowers, died on Friday night, his office said. He was 94.

George H. W. Bush, the 41st U.S. president and father of the 43rd President George W. Bush, signed with Gorbachev the first nuclear arms reduction treaty with the Soviet Union in July 1991 before the Communist state’s collapse at the end of the year.

[Getty/Kyodo]

Born in Massachusetts, George H. W. Bush joined the U.S. Navy when he was 18 and survived the downing of his torpedo bomber by the Japanese military over the Ogasawara island chain, south of Tokyo, in September 1944. He was rescued by a U.S. submarine.

He was inaugurated as president in January 1989 after serving as vice president under Ronald Reagan. He had previously been head of the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

George W. Bush issued a statement and said, «George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for.»

During his visit to Tokyo as president in January 1992 George H. W. Bush fell ill during a banquet at the prime minister’s office while suffering from a bout of intestinal flu.

In the middle of the dinner, he suddenly collapsed and leaned on Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa sitting next to him. He recovered a few minutes later with the help of his wife Barbara, but the incident, which happened 10 months before a presidential election, was widely covered by major news media around the world.

As president, he enhanced bilateral dialogue with Gorbachev and did away with the containment policy directed against the leader of the Eastern bloc.

In December 1989 George H. W. Bush and Gorbachev held a summit in Malta and declared the end of Cold War at the first-ever joint press conference by the U.S. and Soviet leaders.

The two leaders signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the first pact aimed at reducing strategic nuclear weapons, in 1991.

He led coalition forces in the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq with the backing of the U.N. Security Council, and saw his public approval ratings reach nearly 90 percent after the war.

But he came under fire over the lack of major domestic credentials amid the sagging U.S. economy and was beaten by Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential race.

All — Kyodo News+

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