Former US national security advisor Berger dead

Washington (AFP) - Former US national security advisor Sandy Berger, who aided president Bill Clinton during the Balkan wars, died Wednesday, according to his colleagues.

Berger, 70, "passed away early this morning, surrounded by his family," after a "courageous battle with cancer," the Albright Stonebridge Group, a consultancy firm he co-founded with former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, said.

President Barack Obama led the tributes to Berger, who was the top national security official at the White House between 1997 and 2001.

"Sandy devoted himself to strengthening American leadership in an uncertain world," Obama said in a statement.

"Today, his legacy can be seen in a peaceful Balkans, our strong alliance with Japan, our deeper relationships with India and China."

"I've benefited personally from his advice and counsel."

For four years Berger guided Clinton though the NATO bombing campaign in the former Yugoslavia, the Northern Ireland peace process and a host of other security challenges.

"Our country is stronger because of Sandy's deep and abiding commitment to public service, and there are countless people whose lives he changed for the better. I am certainly one of them," said Albright.

Out of office, Berger's reputation was tarnished when it was revealed that he took classified documents related to Clinton's presidency from the National Archives.

But he remained an influential voice in Washington, including recently voicing his support for the nuclear deal with Iran.