Former French President Giscard d’Estaing has died: Reports

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Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing has died, France’s Europe 1 radio reported on Wednesday.

Giscard, France’s leader from 1974 to 1981, had recently been hospitalized.

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Giscard d’Estaing had recently been hospitalized in Tours, in central France. His office did not provide further details.

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.

Giscard was known for steering a modernization of French society during his presidency, including allowing divorce by mutual consent and legalizing abortion, and was one of the architects of European integration.

Elected president at 48, he came to power after years of Gaullist rule and sought to liberalize the economy and social attitudes.

He lost his re-election bid, however, to Socialist Francois Mitterrand.

In Europe, he forged a close relationship with former West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt and together they laid the foundations for the euro single currency, setting up the European Monetary System.

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