WASHINGTON: Bill Richardson, a former US diplomat, congressman, energy secretary and New Mexico governor who made his mark on the world stage by securing the release of Americans and others held by various autocratic governments, has died at the age of 75, the Richardson Center for Global Engagement said on Saturday (Sep 2).
Richardson, who made an unsuccessful 2008 bid to become the first Hispanic US president, passed away in his sleep at his summer home in Chatham, Massachusetts, vice president of the Richardson Center Mickey Bergman said in a statement.
“The world has lost a champion for those held unjustly abroad and I have lost a mentor and a dear friend,” said Bergman.
The son of a Mexican mother and an American father, Richardson served from 1982 to 1996 as a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives, then as US ambassador to the United Nations and energy secretary, both under President Bill Clinton. Richardson was elected as governor of New Mexico, serving from 2003 to 2011.
Using deft negotiating skills and personal warmth, he was able both as a formal representative of the United States and as a freelance troubleshooter on private humanitarian missions to win the release of numerous people held in nations including North Korea, Myanmar, Sudan, Iraq, Iran and Cuba.
“The first rule of negotiating, with me, is you’ve got to relate to your adversary personally. You have to respect them. You’ve gotta know what … makes them tick,” Richardson said on a podcast produced by Foreign Policy magazine in 2018.
“You’ve gotta let the other side save face and find some ways that they get some credit, that they’re getting something out of the negotiation, when in effect the only thing may be praise for a humanitarian gesture.”