William H. Sullivan, a veteran diplomat who oversaw the "secret war" in Laos, aided in negotiations to end
Sullivan died at an assisted-living facility in Washington, according to his daughter, Anne Sullivan. The cause was not given.
As ambassador to Laos, Sullivan controlled a secret U.S. bombing campaign against North Vietnamese troops moving through Laotian territory along the Ho Chi Minh trail. His daughter said Sullivan required that he approve all bombing runs, in an effort to limit civilian casualties and armed conflict in Laos.
Sullivan played an important role in initiating the opening of discussions with the North Vietnamese that led to the Paris peace talks. As a deputy to
Sullivan then served as ambassador to the Philippines and helped coordinate the arrival and eventual resettlement of thousands of Vietnamese refugees after the fall of Saigon in 1975.
He was named ambassador to Iran by
Several days later, heavily armed guerrillas attacked
Sullivan left Iran soon afterward and retired from the Foreign Service later in 1979. Sullivan's experience as a hostage in Iran came nine months before the seizure of hostages at the U.S. Embassy that lasted from November 1979 until the end of the Carter presidency on Jan. 20, 1981.
William Healy Sullivan was born Oct. 12, 1922, in Cranston, R.I. He graduated from
He was posted to Bangkok, Calcutta, Tokyo, Rome, the Hague and Saigon before his Laos appointment.
Sullivan, whose wife, Marie, died in 2010, is survived by four children.