Published: Jan 14, 2011 10:00 PM EST
Updated: Jan 14, 2011 7:06 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke was an extraordinary diplomat with a clear-eyed vision of America's place in the world who "served his country until his final moments."

Obama spoke Friday at a memorial service at the Kennedy Center packed with top U.S. officials and world leaders.

Holbrooke was Obama's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan before dying in December after surgery to repair a tear in his aorta. He was 69.

In a storied career, Holbrooke designed the 1995 Bosnia peace plan and wrote part of the Pentagon Papers.

Obama said Holbrooke worked to ensure the survival and success of liberty.

The president also announced the creation of an annual award named after Holbrooke to honor excellence in American diplomacy.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)