WASHINGTON - The only career foreign-service officer to rise to the position of secretary of state, Lawrence Eagleburger was a straightforward diplomat who had a commitment to solving tangled foreign-policy problems.

Eagleburger, who died Saturday at age 80, held the job late in George H.W. Bush's presidency, culminating a distinguished diplomatic career.

Over 27 years in the foreign service, he served in the Nixon administration as executive assistant to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, as President Jimmy Carter's ambassador to Yugoslavia, and as an assistant secretary of state and then undersecretary of state in the first Reagan administration.

Eagleburger died in Charlottesville, Va., after a short illness.

Eagleburger held the top post at the State Department for five months when James Baker resigned in summer 1992 to help Bush in an unsuccessful bid for re-election.

Baker said Eagleburger "was a legend in the U.S. Foreign Service, a consummate professional who served his country expertly and with great dignity as a selfless diplomat." He said his former colleague was "superb at divining trouble and heading it off. That's why he became the first Foreign Service officer in history to rise to deputy secretary of state and later to secretary of state. Simply stated, Larry Eagleburger was as good as they come - loyal, hardworking and intelligent, a trifecta for an American diplomat."