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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.

The BBC's Richard Downes in Amman: "This country will never be the same again"
The king is being flown back to Amman after doctors at a US clinic released him to let him return home to die.

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."

[ image: King Hussein: Much loved]
King Hussein: Much loved
A palace statement said the king would arrive in Amman on Friday morning. He is due to be taken immediately by helicopter to the royal medical centre to continue treatment.

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.

Triumphant return

King Hussein is suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer which has a recovery rate of approximately 50%.

Brian Hanrahan: "Few Jordanians have known any other ruler"
It was only two weeks ago that he made a triumphant return to Jordan, after six months of treatment in the US. He was greeted by hundreds of thousands of people lining the route to the palace. At the time, he declared himself "completely cured".

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.

[ image:  ]
The king spent just six days in Jordan, before being rushed back to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, after a relapse.

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."

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Internet Links

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