Thanat Khoman, who as Thailand's foreign minister helped cement his country's close relations with the United States during the Vietnam War, has died at age 101, his family announced.

U.S. diplomats who dealt with Thanat described him admiringly as shrewd and above all, dedicated to seeking advantage for his country. The shifting sands of international politics saw Thanat move from being an advocate of close links to Washington to a promoter of regional balance by establishing relations with China, which had been a Cold War bogeyman.

"He defended Thailand's interests with grit and grace," said a statement issued by U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Glyn Davies after Thanat's death on Thursday. "We mourn his passing."