ISLAMABAD (AFP) - President Asif Ali Zardari paid tribute to Richard Holbrooke on Tuesday, calling the late US special envoy to the region a friend of Pakistan and a talented diplomat. Pakistan has lost a friend. He was an accomplished and experienced diplomat who quickly gained the confidence of his interlocutors, Zardari was quoted as saying in an official statement. He called Holbrooke a key player in international diplomacy to bring peace to Bosnia and in confronting militancy in our part of the world. Zardari described Holbrooke as a personal friend of both himself and his late wife, assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan was one of Americas most experienced diplomats with an illustrious career spanning nearly 50 years. He had the daunting task of pushing Kabul and Islamabad to work together against a resurgent Al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The best tribute to him is to reiterate our resolve to root out extremism and usher in peace, Zardari said. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Holbrooke was a diplomat per excellence whose sudden death left a huge vacuum. He credited Holbrooke with helping to upgrade Pakistan-US relations, which have been traditionally characterised by distrust. Qureshi said Holbrooke helped to lay a solid foundation for a broad-based relationship based on mutual respect, trust and interest and left behind a strong legacy of result-oriented diplomacy.