Prominent US Congressman Tom Lantos has died

Tom Lantos died of cancer of the esophagus aged 80 at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland. The only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress, he founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and was a strong supporter of Israel in the House.
During a long and distinguished career as both hawk and social liberal, Tom Lantos was Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee from 2007 and senior member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He passed away during his 14th term in office.
Born in Budapest to Jewish parents, the future congressman was sent to a Nazi labor camp in 1944 but escaped. Three years later, he came to the US on an academic scholarship.
A supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq at first, he criticized the Bush administration’s Iraq policies from 2006 and its troop surge strategy. In his California district, Lantos supported a socially liberal agenda.
He performed many delicate diplomatic missions for both Democrat and Republican administrations. In 2004, he was among the first American lawmakers to visit Libya in decades and reported back it was time for US overtures to normalize relations with Tripoli.
He also carried informal messages between US administrations and Israel governments and Bashar Assad in Damascus. In 2007, Lantos was in the delegation of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi which held talks with Syrian president in 2007.
Married his childhood sweetheart Annette, the couple has two daughters, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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