Netanyahu: Kohl a great friend to Israel

Elizabeth II second left standing with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl left U.S. President Ronald Reagan second right and Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Netanyahu: Kohl a great friend to Israel

Helmut Joseph Michael Kohl was born in Ludwigshafen on April 3, 1930, the third and last child of Cäcilie E. and Hans Kohl, a minor civil servant and tax expert who had been a soldier in World War I.

"The 21st century in Europe really began on his watch", Clinton said, describing Mr Kohl as "a man who was big in more than physical stature".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she received the news of predecessor Kohl's death en route to Rome on Friday and later changed her plans.

Kohl's 16-year tenure as chancellor stretched from 1982 to 1998.

"A truly great German has died", said Gabriel in a statement.

As the Cold War ended with the Berlin Wall coming down in November 1989, he moved to "grab the mantle of history", as he later said, forging a political stature commensurate with his towering height.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said "a tribute to the memory of chancellor Kohl". He celebrated the European Union's eastward expansion in 2004 with a speech declaring that "the most important rule of the new Europe is: There must never again be violence in Europe".

He says "among the State of Israel's greatest friends, he was completely dedicated to its security".

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After the Soviet Union relinquished control of Eastern Europe, Kohl launched his push for reunification, with constant reassurances to Western leaders that a united Germany posed no threat.

FILE - The June 10, 1984 file photo shows Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, second left, standing with, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, left, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, second right, and Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at London's Buckingham Palace, prior to a dinner for summit leaders.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker ordered flags at EU institutions to be flown at half-mast.

"The maker of a united Germany and Franco-German friendship: with Helmut Kohl, we lose a great European", tweeted French President Emmanuel Macron, with an iconic picture of Kohl and Mitterrand holding hands at a memorial to the World War One battle of Verdun.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko said "Kohl was a political giant, a European visionary and true statesman". Like them, he made his overriding goal the rebuilding of Germany within a united Europe.

The former chancellor was married for 41 years to Hannelore Renner, an interpreter of English and French who stood firmly but discreetly by his side.

Baker said Kohl and former U.S. President George H.W. Bush "convinced the world to put East and West Germany back together as a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nearly a half century after the division of Europe following World War II".

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