Obama 'Praying' for Holbrooke's Recovery

Afghanistan Representative in critical condition after surgery on torn aorta.

Dec. 12, 2010— -- President Obama is "praying for the recovery" of Richard Holbrooke, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who is in critical condition after a surgery to repair a tear in his aorta, according to a statement released Saturday night.

"Richard Holbrooke is a towering figure in American foreign policy, a critical member of my Afghanistan and Pakistan team, and a tireless public servant who has won the admiration of the American people and people around the world," Obama said in the statement.

"We continue to pray for his recovery, and support his family in this difficult time," the president said.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said doctors completed the surgery Saturday morning, and that he was joined by his family, along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

According to Democratic sources, Holbrooke, Clinton's top aide for the region, gasped and was clearly undergoing a medical situation when he became ill on Friday. He is said to have walked out of her office on his own power and was tended to by medical personnel at the State Department before being transported to the hospital.

Holbrook's hospitalization comes just days before the Obama administration is set to roll out its Afghanistan review this coming Thursday.

Holbrooke was expected to be part of the public presentations. Aides tell ABC News that the review is complete and his absence should not affect its release.

Holbrooke was named to his current post just days after Obama took office in January 2009 and was immediately given the job of overhauling the United States' efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is known best for his bombastic personality and stamina, having traveled to the region numerous times since taking office.

The veteran diplomat is a former two-time assistant secretary of state, ambassador to Germany, and was a key player in the Dayton Peace accords, which brokered an end to the conflict in Bosnia.

He began his long career as a foreign service officer at the U.S. embassy in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

ABC News' Jake Tapper, Ryan Creed and Kevin Dolak contributed to this report.