Polish president and Walesa to go to Rome

April 4, 2005 at 1:33 PM

WARSAW, Poland, April 4 (UPI) -- Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said Monday he and his wife would go to the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome Friday.

The Kwasniewskis will attend the ceremony alongside Lech Walesa, himself a former president and once the leader of the anti-communist Solidarity trade union movement.

The ceremony for Pope John Paul will be attended by U.S. President George W. Bush and a host of dignitaries from around the world.

Across the Pope's native Poland, millions of devoted followers began observing a period of mourning Monday which will last until the funeral.

Flags throughout the country were being flown at half staff and the Warsaw Stock Exchange suspended trading at midday to observe a three-minute silence in the pope's honor.

The pope was both a spiritual and national icon in Poland and is regarded by many of his compatriots as the greatest figure in the country's turbulent history.

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