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Monday, February 8, 1999 Published at 06:57 GMT


Blair joins leaders for Hussein funeral

Tony Blair: King Hussein "touched people's lives"

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is among world leaders gathering in Jordan for the funeral of King Hussein.

Tony Blair: Efforts for peace will be remembered
Mr Blair, one of the first to show up for Monday's funeral service, praised King Hussein as a leader of courage and integrity.

He said: "King Hussein has a very special place in the hearts of the entire international community.

"He touched people's lives in a very direct way."

Mr Blair is being joined by the Prince of Wales, Conservative leader William Hague and Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown.

The Union Flag at Buckingham Palace is being flown at half-mast in a symbolic tribute to King Hussein who died of cancer on Sunday aged 63.

[ image: Half-mast: A rare tribute]
Half-mast: A rare tribute
Buckingham Palace said the Queen and her family were "deeply saddened".

A spokesman said the prince had "the greatest affection and admiration for the king, whom he considered a great friend of Britain".

Mr Hague praised the king's "sense of humanity and his unswerving dedication (which) were key factors in the brokering of peace in the Middle East".

Mr Ashdown said: "More than almost any other Arab leader of our time, King Hussein of Jordan has, over the long years of his reign, been a father of his nation, a good friend to Britain and a champion of peace."

Baroness Thatcher said King Hussein was irreplaceable, someone who would have a very distinguished place in history.

[ image: Baroness Thatcher: Great loss to whole world]
Baroness Thatcher: Great loss to whole world
The former prime minister said: "How can one pay tribute that is adequate? He was a unique person. He had wonderful qualities as well as being a very great monarch."

Her predecessor Lord Callaghan added: "I am very sorry indeed. I met him on many occasions and admired the skill and statesmanship with which he held Jordan together."

Another former PM, Sir Edward Heath, said he felt "a deep personal loss".

"His death will be an immense loss not only to his own country but to the whole of the Middle East," he said.

[ image: Archbishop Carey: Prayer for peace]
Archbishop Carey: Prayer for peace
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey, who met King Hussein on a visit to Jordan in January 1992, expressed "deep personal sorrow".

"Anglicans worldwide will join the people of Jordan in mourning a man whose absence will be deeply felt wherever men and women of good will are to be found," he said in a statement.

"With them we pray that the goal for which he worked so tirelessly, peace with justice in the Middle East, may be finally achieved.

"He could have no more fitting epitaph."

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08 Feb 99 | Middle East
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