Former political leaders in the United States have paid tribute to Henry Kissinger, one of the most powerful diplomats in American history, who died on Wednesday.

However, the former US secretary of state and national security adviser was also widely criticised on social media as a war criminal, particularly for his controversial role in the Vietnam War.

Mr Kissinger died on Wednesday aged 100 at his home in Connecticut.

Former US president George W Bush said that with the death of Mr Kissinger, the United States had “lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices”.

“I have long admired the man who fled the Nazis as a young boy from a Jewish family, then fought them in the United States Army,” Mr Bush said in a statement.

“When he later became secretary of state, his appointment as a former refugee said as much about his greatness as it did America’s greatness.”

Another former US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said Mr Kissinger left an indelible mark on American and world history.

Mr Kissinger served as secretary of state for two American presidents, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

As the country’s top diplomat he played a key role in shaping US policy during the cold war.

He engineered the United States’ opening to China, negotiated its exit from Vietnam War and was involved in setting its relationships with the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war.

Apart from serving in two White House administrations, he advised a dozen presidents over his long career, including Joe Biden. He also won a shared Nobel Prize for negotiating the end to the Vietnam War.

However, he was also strongly criticised by his opponents on the left, particularly over human rights abuses as he pursued US interests abroad.

He supported Indonesia in its invasion of East Timor, backed the invasion of Angola by the apartheid regime in South Africa and worked with the CIA to overthrow the democratically-elected president of Chile.

For negotiating the Paris treaty which ended the Vietnam War, Mr Kissinger and Le Duc Tho were awarded a shared Nobel peace prize although the North Vietnamese negotiator refused to accept the honour.

His 1973 peace prize was one of the most contentious awards in Nobel history, as it was revealed Mr Kissinger had supported Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia in 1969. Two Nobel committee members stepped down over the decision.

In a statement on Wednesday Mr Kissinger’s consultancy firm said he was considered as one of America’s great statesmen.

“Dr. Kissinger was regularly consulted by American presidents of both political parties and scores of foreign leaders after he finished government service in 1977. ”

It said that “most recently, Dr Kissinger focused his attention on the implications of artificial intelligence”.