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Afghanistan's former king, Mohammad Zahir Shah (left), shown speaking with President Hamid Karzai in 2002 (file photo) (Bymedia.net)
KABUL, July 24, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Afghanistan's last monarch was buried in a Kabul shrine today next to his late wife and other members of the royal family.
Mohammad Zahir Shah died on July 23 at the age of 92. Three days of national mourning were declared.
Afghan and foreign dignitaries, lawmakers, and relatives paid their last respects to him today during a memorial ceremony at Kabul's presidential palace. Zahir Shah's body was then taken to Kabul's main mosque before President Hamid Karzai, a distant cousin of the king, led mourners accompanying the coffin on its way to a hilltop mausoleum.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz were among the foreign officials in Kabul for the funeral.
U.S. President George W. Bush called Zahir Shah a "monumental figure" in Afghanistan's history. He said the former king had "encouraged Afghanistan toward democracy and stability."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the international community "is grateful for the dignity and grace with which [Zahir Shah] accepted to surrender monarchical claims in 2004 in favor of a republican government based on a new consitution."
Zahir Shah returned home in 2002 from 29 years in exile in Italy following the fall of the Taliban regime.