Ex-French leader Valery Giscard d’Estaing dies at age 94

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FILE – In this Aug.9 1969, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, left, as Finance Minister and Jacques Chirac as Secretary of State to Finance leave Elysee Palace, Aug. 9, 1969. Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the president of France from 1974 to 1981 who became a champion of European integration, has died Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 at the age of 94, his office and the French presidency said. (AP Photo, File)

PARIS (AP) — Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the president of France from 1974 to 1981 who became a champion of European integration, has died Wednesday at the age of 94, his office and the French presidency said.

Giscard d’Estaing’s office said he passed away in his family home in the Loir-et-Cher region, in central France, after contracting COVID-19. He had recently been hospitalized in the town of Tours.

“In accordance with his wishes, his funeral will take place in strict privacy,” his office said.

Born in 1926, Giscard d’Estaing served in the Free French army that helped liberate France during World War II. Charles de Gaulle named him finance minister at age 36.

As president, he helped forge a single Europe with his close friend, German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Together they laid the foundations for the euro single currency.

Considered at the time a model of a modern president, Giscard d’Estaing notably legalized abortion and divorce by mutual consent.

He lost his re-election bid in 1981 to Socialist Francois Mitterrand.

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