US President Joe Biden has praised the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who died in Moscow at age 91, as a "man of remarkable vision."
Gorbachev had worked to bring about democratic reforms in the Soviet Union after decades of brutal political repression, Biden said in a White House statement issued late on Tuesday.
"These were the acts of a rare leader one with the imagination to see that a different future was possible and the courage to risk his entire career to achieve it. The result was a safer world and greater freedom for millions of people," he said.
Biden went on to say that Gorbachev believed in "glasnost" (openness) and "perestroika" (restructuring), not as mere slogans, but as the way forward for the people of the Soviet Union after so many years of isolation and deprivation.
The Cold War had already lasted for nearly 40 years when Gorbachev came to power, Biden continued, adding that only a few high-ranking Soviet officials had dared to admit that things needed to change.
As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden said he had witnessed Gorbachev do this and more.
"As the leader of the USSR, he worked with President (Ronald) Reagan to reduce our two countries' nuclear arsenals, to the relief of people worldwide praying for an end to the nuclear arms race."
Even years after leaving office, Gorbachev was still deeply engaged, Biden added, recalling a 2009 visit the former Soviet leader made to the White House during which the two had spoken at length about how to reduce US and Russian nuclear stockpiles.
"It was easy to see why so many worldwide held him in such high esteem," the President concluded.
Gorbachev, the Nobel Peace laureate and the leader of the Soviet Union, died on Tuesday evening "after a serious and long illness".
The statesman is to be buried next to his wife in Moscow's Novodevichy Cemetery, the burial place of many of Russia's most famous politicians, writers, and composers. (AA/IANS)