AMMAN, Jordan, Feb. 8 -- The late King Hussein was laid to rest in the royal cemetery within the Raghadan Palace compound. The king, who died Sunday, was buried following final prayers at the royal mosque and after dignitaries from around the world paid their last respects. Syrian President Hafez Assad was the first of the world leaders to offer his condolences to Jordan's new King Abdullah after the burial of his father. Assad arrived unexpectedly for the state funeral despite sour ties since Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. The U.S. delegation, headed by President Clinton, and including former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush, arrived at Raghadan Palace as Jordanian dignitaries, including Jordan's new King Abdullah, princes, and government officials, bowed to the coffin bearing Hussein inside the palace and silently recited verses from the Koran. Ailing Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who defied doctors' orders to fly to Amman for Hussein's funeral, had to be helped by a man on either side of him as he climbed the stairs leading into the palace. Yeltsin returned to Moscow before the ceremonies had concluded. Several sons of the late King Hussein carried their father's casket from a Bab el-Salam palace door and handed it to eight Jordanian officers shortly after noon prayers today on a 43-degree, cloudy day. The coffin, wrapped in a Jordanian flag, was placed on a flower-bedecked military vehicle for the journey to Raghadan palace in downtown Amman for burial in the royal cemetery.
Hundreds of thousands of weeping Jordanians lined the streets. More than 10 female members of the royal family, including Queen Noor, watched from the doorway of Bab el-Salam as the casket was placed on the military vehicle. The large number of dignitaries forced Air Force One, bearing Clinton and three former U.S. presidents, to circle the area for 45 minutes awaiting permission to land. Even after the American plane touched down, there were at least 10 planes awaiting landing clearance. The funeral brought together such traditional foes as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Syria's Assad, as well as Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat. At least 40 countries have sent representatives to honor the late king and King Abdullah. Hussein died Sunday at 63 years old and his body was moved in an ambulance from the Hussein Medical Center to his Bab es-Salam residence, wending its way through crowds of Jordanian mourners who wept outside the hospital. Palace sources said the body was taken to Bab es-Salam, which means 'door of peace,' so family members could say their farewells before Hussein was laid to rest. The king died Sunday after surviving on life support since Friday, when he returned from unsuccessful cancer treatment in the United States. His son, Abdullah Bin Hussein, assumed the Hashemite throne by taking an oath just hours after the king died. An official statement broadcast at 12:30 p.m. local time (5:30 a.m. EST) by a somber-looking announcer dressed in black said King Hussein died at 11:43 a.m. (4:43 a.m. EST). Abdullah addressed the nation in a televised speech before assuming the throne to express his condolences to the Jordanian people. He said, 'The soul of Hussein, our father, brother and leader, will remain with us and among us. He will not be absent from our hearts and souls.' Abdullah promised to continue 'building with all faith and loyalty for our dear and strong Jordan with all our strength and faith in unity, in one heart and one family.' According to a list issued by the palace, Israel sent the largest delegation to the funeral, including President Ezer Weizman, Netanyahu, opposition leader Ehud Barak and Leah Rabin, the widow of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Leaders paying their respects to King Hussein also included the presidents of Austria, Egypt, and Turkey, and the prime ministers of Britain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Japan, Pakistan and Denmark. Iraqi Vice President Taha Mohieddine represented his country, while South African Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi represented his. The kings, queens and princes and representatives of Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Holland, Japan, Spain, Oman, Saudi Arabia as well as other Gulf states also took part in the funeral. ---
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