Friday, February 5, 1999 Published at 07:05 GMT
King Hussein's final journey home
Jordanians have been told the king is coming home
King Hussein of Jordan is returning home in a critical condition after the failure of his latest cancer operation in the United States.
Doctors say the 63-year-old king - the Middle East's longest-serving leader - suffered internal organ failure following an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant.
"We hope he makes it," said a Jordanian minister who asked not to be named. "He wants to die in his own country."
His private jet left the US for the overnight flight at 2011 GMT on Thursday. In a salute to a long-standing ally, the Pentagon sent two F-16 fighters to escort the king's plane out of the country.
King Hussein's plane touched down for a brief refuelling stop in Shannon, Ireland at 0230 GMT.
Members of the royal family including his wife, Queen Noor, and a team of doctors were heading back to Amman with the king.
King Hussein is suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer which has a recovery rate of approximately 50%.
During his brief visit, he installed his son, Abdullah, as heir apparent. King Hussein's brother Hassan, who had spent three decades preparing to succeed him, was dismissed from the role of Crown Prince.
He was given another session of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. His condition was stable until Wednesday, when it declined severely.
According to official reports in Amman, he had been conducting the affairs of state from his hospital bed.
Jordan's ambassador to the US, Marwan Muasher, said the king had been in regular contact with Crown Prince Abdullah, who has been plunged into a series of meetings with international politicians.
The king, a heavy smoker, has had seven courses of chemotherapy and two bone marrow infusions since being admitted to the clinic in July 1998.
The BBC Amman Correspondent Richard Downes says people in Jordan realise that the much-loved king may have little time left. "Jordanians say Jordan is King Hussein and King Hussein is Jordan."