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US, World Leaders Pay Tribute to Richard Nixon

LEADING world and national figures paid tribute to former President Richard Nixon over the weekend.

President Clinton declared Wednesday a national day of mourning, and he ordered federal offices closed for the day in recognition.

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The former president, he said, ``suffered defeats that would have ended most political careers, yet he won stunning victories that many of the world's most popular leaders have failed to attain.''

The 37th president of the United States died Friday and will be flown to California on a presidential jet and lie in state at the Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, Calif. - ``a house my father built,'' he wrote in his 1978 memoirs, ``RN.''

His public career spanned 27 years and included:

* Detente with the Soviet Union and the first steps toward control of nuclear weapons.

* The opening to Communist China.

* Creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and adoption of the landmark Clean Water and Clean Air Acts.

* Community block grants and revenue-sharing programs to aid local governments.

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Nixon resigned from office in August 1974 following a vote of the House Judiciary Committee recommending impeachment for obstructing justice in the Watergate scandal. He spent the next four years in seclusion, but reemerged in public life as an adviser and commentator.

``He was current with world leaders, and his grasp for foreign policy among US leaders was almost in a class by itself,'' said former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

CHINESE President Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng, in a telegram of condolence, hailed Nixon as ``a politician with strategic long-term vision and political courage [who] ... opened the door for a new era in Sino-American relations.''

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said Saturday that Nixon defied the world by supporting Israel in the 1973 Middle East war. ``Israel lost a friend. I personally lost a personal friend,'' Mr. Rabin told army radio Saturday.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who snubbed Nixon during a visit to Russia last month, said he had always valued Nixon's guidance. ``His attitude to Russia may not have been love, but it was a special attitude,'' Mr. Yeltsin said in an interview with CNN. ``He gave the advice of a wise politician ... to which I personally paid a lot of attention.''

British Prime Minister John Major described the former president as ``a leading architect of the process which led to the end of the cold war, and his judgment of international affairs was widely respected.''

In his final years, the former president had recovered prestige as a foreign policy adviser.

``History will give Richard Nixon enormous credit for his accomplishments,'' said former President Bush.

Nixon wrote eight books after leaving the presidency. He was revising galley proofs of his 10th book ``Beyond Peace,'' just before his death.

In it, he sharply criticizes President Clinton's foreign policy, according to excerpts released by Time magazine Saturday. The US ``cannot react to every emergency call like an international 911 US operator, but we must respond to those that affect our vital interests in the world,'' he wrote.

In a speech to the White House staff on leaving office, Nixon recalled a tribute Theodore Roosevelt wrote when his wife died. ``And when my heart's dearest died, the light went from my life forever.''

``But he went on,'' Nixon recalled in his memoirs. ``And he not only became president, but after that he served his country for many years, always in the arena, always vital.... His experience should be an example for everyone to remember.''

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