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DC, USA (UPDATED) - John McCain, a war hero and towering figure in US politics known for reaching across the aisle in an increasingly divided nation, died on Saturday, August 25, following a battle with brain cancer.

Colleagues of McCain, 81, had been bracing for the worst for months as the Arizona senator retreated from public life to fight the disease. The senator spent New Year's Eve with the soldiers, telling them, "Your struggle is our struggle".

The president, who as a candidate in 2016 mocked McCain's capture in Vietnam, had jabbed at the ailing senator for voting against Republican efforts to roll back President Barack Obama's health care law.

McCain chose to stop treatment for the brain cancer he had been battling for over a year, his family announced on Friday, precipitating a rare moment of bipartisan empathy for the Vietnam war hero.

McCain died one day after his family announced he had stopped treatment for brain cancer.

McCain spent the previous year undergoing cancer treatment, but his family said Friday that he would discontinue that treatment.

"He was a great fire who burned bright, and we lived in his light and warmth", said Meghan McCain, one of the late senator's seven children - three of them from a previous marriage. "I ask you, what should we be looking for in our next president?"

Congressional leaders immediately offered sympathy.

On Twitter, the United States first lady wrote: "Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy to the McCain Family".

Meghan McCain is mourning the loss of her father, Sen.

"Prayers for @SenJohnMcCain and his family at this most trying time", Palin wrote in a tweet.

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Though he voiced measured support of President Trump's tax reform bill, he was physically unable to participate in the Senate's 51-48 passage of the highly contentious measure in December. In recent weeks, he was not completely quiet, however.

This led to regular, personal attacks from Trump. The move reportedly infuriated Mr Trump. He opposed the president's nominee for Central Intelligence Agency director because of her past role in overseeing torture, scolded Trump for alienating USA allies at an global summit, labeled the administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy "an affront to the decency of the American people" and denounced the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki as a "tragic mistake" in which the president put on "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory".

McCain was also a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, especially of his behavior toward traditional American allies and enemies overseas.

The Maverick made it clear from 2015, when Trump called Mexicans "rapists", that he did not agree with the bombastic businessman's statements.

Trump has been criticised for his feud with McCain, which started after he underplayed the senator's renowned military service. John McCain, recalling the lawmaker's decades of service to the United States while downplaying talk that he could fill McCain's seat.

Senator John McCain's allies and political foes have rallied in a rare show of unity in offering condolences on the death of the Vietnam war hero.

He died at his Arizona home. In his new memoir, "The Restless Wave", he said he had received calls since his diagnosis from old sparring partners, including the two men who ended his White House dreams in 2000 and 2008: former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

"Before I leave, I'd like to see our politics begin to return to the purposes and practices that distinguish our history from the history of other nations".

Many American allies would have described him as their greatest friend in the US Congress.

Flake said that he was with McCain on Friday to say goodbye, and to thank McCain's family.

Elsewhere on Twitter, McCain's trying years in the military were noted among commemorators as a defining feature of the Vietnam War veteran's life.