Houston - Former US president George HW Bush, who guided America through the end of the Cold War and launched the international campaign to drive Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait, died Friday at his home in Houston. He was 94.

Tributes quickly poured in for the 41st US president - a decorated World War II pilot, skilled diplomat and onetime CIA chief who also saw his son George follow in his footsteps to the Oval Office.

Bush’s passing comes just months after the death in April of his wife Barbara - his “most beloved woman in the world” - to whom he was married for 73 years. “Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died,” former president George W Bush said in a statement.

“George HW Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for,” he said. Bush is survived by his five living children - a sixth child, daughter Robin, died of leukemia before her fourth birthday - and 17 grandchildren.

He died “at home in Houston surrounded by family and close friends,” family spokesman Jim McGrath told AFP.

Bush suffered from Parkinson’s disease and had used a wheelchair for several years. He had been in and out of hospital in recent months, including right after Barbara’s death. Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course, McGrath said.

In January 2006, Bush, despite his advancing age, visited Pakistan to meet the survivors of the 2005 devastating earthquake that rocked the northern part of the country. He undertook the tour at the request of the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the world body chief’s special envoy. After the trip, he helped raised funds for the quake victims.

During the 1971 war, Bush, who was then US ambassador to the UN, worked closely with his Pakistani counterpart, the late Agha Shahi, in the efforts to push the Security Council to call for a ceasefire so that negotiations could begins for a political settlement of the crisis.

But the Soviet Union vetoed all attempts to secure a ceasefire resolution until the fall of Dhaka.

Later, in November when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto arrived in New York to lead the Pakistani delegation, Bush backed Bhutto’s passionate call to the 15-member Council to stop the war so that a political solution could be found. Bush denounced Moscow for blocking efforts to bring peace to the region and India’s refusal to withdraw its troops from East Pakistan. During the stormy October 1971 General Assembly meeting on the question of representation of China at the UN , Ambassador Shahi and his American counterpart Bush were on the opposite sides. Shahi was leading the effort to expel US-backed Taiwan and to restore the credentials of People’s

Republic of China at the world body, while Bush was fighting to retain the membership of Taiwan.

At one stage, when it became clear that the US would lose the vote, Bush called on the Assembly

President, Adam Malik of Indonesia, to suspend the proceeding till the the next day as the time was past midnight. But Shah quickly took the floor and cited a rule that once the voting process has begun, the Assembly proceedings cannot be stopped.

Bush quickly scribbled a note and sent one of his aides took it to Shahi. It read: “Agha, Why do you want me to go back to Taxes? GB”. The vote went ahead and the US lost narrowly, paving the way to the entry of People’s Republic of China to the China after being kept away for 22 years.

But that defeat had no effect on the friendship between Shahi and Bush. In fact, Bush praised the diplomatic skills of Shahi at several public events while reminiscing about his service as US Ambassador to the UN. In 1989, Bush played host to Benazir Bhutto, the first female prime minister in the Islamic world, when she paid a state visit to the United States. During the visit, Ms. Bhutto won an agreement for the sale of 60 F-16 fighter jets for $1.4 billion to Pakistan. The former president, a Republican, is expected to lie in state in the US Capitol and then be buried at his presidential library in Texas, where students held a candlelight vigil early Saturday, local media reported.

President Donald Trump, who was in Argentina attending a G20 summit of world leaders, hailed Bush’s “sound judgment, common sense, and unflappable leadership.”

“Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country, President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service,” Trump said in a statement. At the White House, the American flag flew at half-staff early Saturday.

Bush - who was born on June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts into a wealthy New England political dynasty - put his studies and career on hold to join the US Navy during World War II.

He flew 58 combat missions and was shot down over the Pacific by Japanese anti-aircraft fire.

He returned home and graduated from Yale University, eventually launching a brief career in the oil industry in Texas. But the world of politics was calling.

He served in the US House of Representatives, as Washington’s envoy to China and as chief of the Central Intelligence Agency before being elected Ronald Reagan’s vice president. Eight years later, as he accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 1988, Bush pleaded for a “kinder, and gentler nation.” He went on to easily defeat Democrat Michael Dukakis that November.

Bush was a foreign policy pragmatist who led the United States through the turbulent but largely peaceful end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union, which culminated in 1991 with its break-up. “We had the chance to work together during the time of enormous changes,” former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said in comments carried by the Interfax news agency.

Bush declared a “new world order” in 1990 and drove Iraq from Kuwait in a matter of weeks with a lightning air and ground assault - and the backing of a coalition of 32 nations.

Despite his success on the international stage, he was denied a second term over a weak economy, losing the 1992 election to upstart Democrat Bill Clinton, a little-known governor from Arkansas.

He later would see his son George occupy the Oval Office for eight years - they are only the second father-son duo in American presidential history, after John and John Quincy Adams.

In his post-presidency years, Bush turned to philanthropy - he joined forces with Clinton to raise funds for victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

He also worked with ex-presidents Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama and son George to raise money for hurricane victims in Texas in 2017.

“I am profoundly grateful for every minute I spent with President Bush and will always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts,” Clinton said in a statement.