WASHINGTON - Long-time US diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who is credited with ending the war in Bosnia, has died after two heart operations at a Washington hospital, the State Department announced Monday night. He was 69. President Barack Obama led the tributes to Holbrooke, his Special Representative on Pakistan and Afghanistan, as a true giant of American foreign policy. Holbrooke underwent an operation lasting more than 20 hours to repair a ruptured aorta after he became ill Friday during a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The second operation Sunday was to improve circulation to his legs. (First lady) Michelle (Obama) and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Richard Holbrooke, a true giant of American foreign policy who has made America stronger, safer, and more respected, the president said in a statement issued by the White House. He was a truly unique figure who will be remembered for his tireless diplomacy, love of country, and pursuit of peace. The president said progress the United States has made in Afghanistan and Pakistan is due in no small measure to Richards relentless focus on Americas national interest, and pursuit of peace and security. But experts believe that despite the fact that he gave his best shot he could not make any significant progress towards stabilising the region. The situation hasnt changed for the better, although he worked very, very hard, one diplomat said. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley had issued a statement Sunday night saying Holbrooke was surrounded by his family, friends, colleagues and staff at the hospital. Crowley said Holbrookes wife, Kati Marton, received calls from President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. His family is grateful for the outpouring of support and prayers coming in from his many friends, colleagues and leaders around the world, Crowley said. Several officials and deputies visited Holbrooke, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, and members of Holbrookes policy team, including deputies Frank Ruggiero and Dan Feldman, who were with Holbrooke in an ambulance Friday. Officials from several agencies attended a meeting at the White House during the weekend to discuss the pending Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy review, expected to be released next week, Politico said. How Holbrookes hospitalization and death will affect the review and release remained unclear. AFP adds: - Richard Holbrooke had some stark final words as he was sedated and going in for surgery, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. Youve got to stop this war in Afghanistan, Holbrooke told his Pakistani surgeon, the Post reported, citing unnamed family members. Working along with US military planners in Afghanistan, Holbrooke oversaw a tripling in the number of civilians in the war-ravaged country under a year-old plan to boost the countrys agriculture, economy and civilian institutions. The annual administration review on Afghan policy is due to discuss what progress has been made since Obama last year deployed 30,000 extra forces there to try to turn the tide of the war and prepare to start the US troop withdrawal in July 2011.