Europe

Guido Westerwelle: Former German foreign minister dead at 54

Guido Westerwelle and his partner Michael Mronz (L) arriving on the red carpet for the opening of the Bayreuth Wagner opera festival outside the Gruener Huegel (Green Hill) opera house in Bayreuth July 25, 2012. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Guido Westerwelle, at right with his partner Michael Mronz, was the first openly gay leader of a German party

Germany's former Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, has died aged 54 after suffering from cancer.

The politician, whose liberal FDP was in government with Angela Merkel's party from 2009-13, died in a Cologne hospital, his foundation said.

He became ill with leukaemia just months after leaving government.

Guido Westerwelle was the first openly gay man to hold high office in Germany, serving as vice chancellor from 2009-11.

He and his long-term partner Michael Mronz entered a civil partnership in 2010.

In a statement on the website of the Westerwelle Foundation, the couple said they were "thankful for an unbelievably good time together. Love remains."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Guido Westerwelle served as Angela Merkel's foreign minister for four years

Mr Westerwelle became leader of the FDP in 2001, aged just 39.

He led the party into government in 2009 as the junior coalition partner to the Christian Democrats, stepping down as party leader and vice chancellor in 2011 after poor state election results, but remained foreign minister until the federal elections in 2013.

In those elections the FDP failed to reach the 5% threshold needed for parliamentary representation and as a result had no seats in Bundestag for the first time since 1949.

Mr Westerwelle's successor as German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, praised him as a "true patriot" in his commitment to Germany and Europe.

German media reported that Mr Westerwelle had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and had undergone a bone marrow transplant.

His foundation said he died as a result of complications associated with his treatment.

Image copyright Westerwelle Foundation
Image caption "Thankful" - statement Guido Westerwelle and Michael Mronz

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