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Monday, February 8, 1999 Published at 11:10 GMT

World: Middle East

The world pays tribute

King Hussein: "Fought tirelessly for peace"

The world's leaders have been paying their tributes to King Hussein of Jordan, who died on Sunday after a lengthy battle against cancer:

Jordan's sorrow
US President Bill Clinton said he was "deeply saddened" and praised King Hussein's "rare courage" in working for peace. He called the king "a humble man" and said he was "a leader whose nobility came not from his title but his character".

President Clinton: "He learned that God only gives us a limited number of opportunities"
"King Hussein was ennobled. Many times his life was threatened but each brush with mortality ennobled him," said Mr Clinton. "As he survived, Jordan survived. He grew in wisdom and so did Jordan. He grew in stature and so did Jordan.

[ image: Clinton: King was an inspiration]
Clinton: King was an inspiration
"He won the respect and admiration of the entire world and so did his beloved Jordan." Mr Clinton also remembered the king breaking off from cancer treatment to "change the tenor" of peace talks at last year's Wye summit.

"Though frail with fighting for his own life he gave life to the process many felt was failing," said the president. "The smallest man in the room that day was the largest. The frailest was the strongest.

Mr Clinton remembers the king change the Wye talks "within a few minutes"
"The man with the least time remaining reminded us we are working not only for ourselves but for all eternity."

Earlier he had praised the king's commitment to ending conflict:"When peace finally comes to the Middle East, his name will be inscribed upon it."

Tony Blair: Efforts for peace will be remembered
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the king had "fought tirelessly for peace". Mr Blair believed he was a remarkable leader: "A man of rare vision, integrity and courage, whose leadership over nearly 50 years did so much for Jordan, its people and the region."

Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth and her family were "deeply saddened". Prince Charles will represent the Royal Family at the funeral. A spokesman said the prince had "the greatest affection and admiration for the king, whom he considered a great friend of Britain". The Union Flag at Buckingham Palace was being flown at half mast on Sunday and for the funeral.

Former UK Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher said King Hussein was irreplaceable, and someone who would have a very distinguished place in history.

Middle East mourns

[ image: Mr Netanyahu: Personal tribute]
Mr Netanyahu: Personal tribute
Across the Middle East periods of mourning have been announced by many Arab states, while Israel has also been fulsome in its praise of the dead king. For a full round-up of reaction from the region click here .

The Palestinian Authority paid its tribute to King Hussein, saying he had worked for the Palestinian people.

"President Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian people and leadership have received with great sorrow and pain the news," it said in a statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent his country's condolences to the king's family and the Jordanian people.

"With great sadness we bid farewell to you, king and friend," he said in a personal tribute. "The peace between our peoples will be a testament to your abiding belief in a lasting peace between the sons of Abraham. Rest in peace, your majesty."

Role for peace praised

In the long list of other leaders who paid tribute to the king, many focused in particular on his contribution to peace:

  • UN Secretary General Kofi Annan paid tribute to the late king, praising him for his "lifelong struggle to bring peace".

  • South African President Nelson Mandela believed the death would be "deeply mourned by all peace-loving people."

  • Russian President Boris Yeltsin said he had heard about "the untimely decease....with a great sorrow".

  • French President Jacques Chirac, in a letter to the late king's family, said the monarch's "extraordinary devotion" to his people was an example to all world leaders.

  • President Thomas Klestil of Austria, where the king kept a winter residence and was close to the leadership, said his country had lost "a great friend".

  • Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel said meeting the king had been "an unforgettable experience"

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey, who met King Hussein on a visit to Jordan in January 1992, expressed "deep personal sorrow". He said he would pray for peace in the Middle East: "He could have no more fitting epitaph."

Japan, Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands were among other countries to add to the tributes.

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