Madeleine Albright, 1st female US secretary of state, dies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. secretary of state, has died of cancer, her family said Wednesday. She was 84. President Bill Clinton chose Albright as America’s top diplomat in 1996, and she served in that capacity for the last four years of the Clinton administration.

At the time, she was the highest-ranking woman in the history of U.S. government. She was not in the line of succession for the presidency, however, because she was a native of Prague. Albright was a child refugee from Nazi- and then Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe. She was a mentor to many current and former American statesmen and women.

In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Albright the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, saying her life was an inspiration to all Americans.