(CNN) -- Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher died Friday from complications of kidney and bladder cancer, his family said. He was 85.
As America's chief diplomat for four years during President Bill Clinton's administration, Christopher "eschewed confrontation in favor of negotiation with friend and foe alike," according to a profile posted on the State Department website.
"The cause of peace and freedom and decency have never had a more tireless or tenacious advocate," Clinton said in 1996 after Christopher announced he was stepping down from the post.
In 1981, Christopher received the Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian award -- for his role in negotiating the release of 52 American hostages in Iran while serving as deputy secretary of state for President Jimmy Carter.
Christopher -- known as "Chris" to his friends -- also oversaw the negotiation of the 1995 Dayton Agreement that ended the Bosnian war.