updated 3/18/2005 8:59:54 PM ET 2005-03-19T01:59:54

Sol M. Linowitz, a diplomat, lawyer and businessman who played key roles in Middle East peace negotiations and the Panama Canal treaty during the Carter administration, died Friday. He was 91.

“Sol Linowitz was a dedicated public servant with great political courage, encyclopedic knowledge of foreign affairs, and unexcelled diplomatic skills,” former President Carter said.

“I and all other Americans are indebted to Sol Linowitz, and we will sorely miss his brilliant mind and eloquent voice in espousing the finest aspects of our nation’s character,” Carter said.

Chairman of Xerox Corp.
The one-time chairman of Xerox Corp. died at his home in Washington, said the Academy for Educational Development, the nonprofit group where he had served as honorary board chairman since 1990.

Linowitz was ambassador to the Organization of American States during the Johnson administration. In 1977, he helped negotiate the historic transfer of the Panama Canal to Panama, “successfully balancing the rights of the Panamanians and the long-term best interests of the United States,” Carter said in a statement issued Friday night.

Linowitz also represented Carter in Middle East peace negotiations that followed the 1978 Camp David accords.

Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
In awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, President Clinton said: “If every world leader had half the vision Sol Linowitz does, we would have about a tenth as many problems as we’ve got in this whole world today.”

A graduate of Cornell University Law School, Linowitz was partner and then senior counsel to the international law firm of Coudert Brothers from 1969-94.

He wrote two books: “The Making of a Public Man: A Memoir,” and “The Betrayed Profession,” in which he lamented what he saw as the decline of the legal profession.

In 1979, Linowitz joined the board of AED, a nonprofit group that works to improve educational, health and economic opportunities in the United States and developing countries.

Linowitz is survived by his wife, Toni, whom he married in 1939. They had four daughters and eight grandchildren.

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