Kohl, a giant on the European and international scenes, sits with Yasser Arafat during their meeting in Jericho.
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Helmut Kohl, the physically imposing German chancellor whose reunification of a nation divided by the Cold War put Germany at the heart of a united Europe, has died at 87 .The close friendships that Kohl built up with other world leaders helped him persuade both anti-communist Western allies and the leaders of the collapsing Soviet Union that a strong, united Germany could finally live at peace with its neighbors.Kohl's first attempt to unseat Social Democratic Chancellor Helmut Schmidt failed in 1976, but Kohl seized his chance six years later, taking power on Oct. 1, 1982, when a junior coalition party switched sides.Only Otto von Bismarck, who first unified Germany in the 1870s, was chancellor longer, for 19 years.Kohl was helped in securing German unity by his friendships with French President Francois Mitterrand and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who approved NATO membership for a united Germany and agreed to pull Soviet troops out of East Germany.
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