President Higgins pays tribute to former German Chancellor Kohl, who has died aged 87

President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who has died aged 87.

He was the longest-serving chancellor of the last century.

John Bruton, former Taoiseach said: "I am very sad to learn of the death of Helmut Kohl.

"Along with President Gorbachev, he was the most important constructive European leader of the past century.

"Underestimated initially, he was a man with a deep sense of history," he said.

The May 8, 2004 file photo shows former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl waving to supporters in front of a European flag during the start of the election campaign of his Christian Democratic Party CDU in Saarbruecken, southwestern Germany. Picture: PA

President Higgins says he will be remembered for his role in the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 and his deep commitment to the 'European Project'.

Britain's former Prime Minister, Sir John Major, says he was a 'towering figure' in European politics.

His Christian Democratic Union Party posted on Twitter: "We are in sorrow. #RIP #HelmutKohl."

German newspaper Bild reported that Mr Kohl died on Friday at his home in Ludwigshafen.

His 16-year tenure as chancellor stretched from 1982 to 1998.

He combined a dogged pursuit of European unity with a keen instinct for history after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.

Less than a year later, he spearheaded the end of Germany's division at the front line of the Cold War.

Former US president Bill Clinton once described Mr Kohl as "the most important European statesman since World War Two".

- PA

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