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Jordan: Yeltsin, Other World Leaders Attend King Hussein's Burial

Amman, Jordan; 8 February 1999 (RFE/RL) - Jordan's King Hussein was entombed at the royal burial grounds of his Hashemite family today in a funeral attended by world leaders, foreign dignitaries and close relatives. Russia's ailing President Boris Yeltsin left the funeral early and flew out of Amman before the burial. Television broadcasts showed aides supporting Yeltsin on each side as he climbed the steps of the palace. He left after 10 minutes without passing by the king's flag-draped coffin.

The ailing 68-year-old Yeltsin, who made the trip against the advice of his doctors, was driven to the airport as the funeral ceremony continued. Itar-Tass reports that his plane took off for Moscow at 1400 Prague time.

Yeltsin is recuperating from an ulcer and has been ill several times in recent months. This was his first foreign trip since a Central Asian visit that was aborted last fall when he fell ill. He was accompanied by his wife, Naina, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and a number of aides.

In Amman, U.S. President Bill Clinton was among nearly 40 heads of state and government who paid their last respects at Raghadan Palace, where the king lay in state. Syrian President Hafez Assad's appearance marked the first time he attended a state event with Israeli leaders. Clinton reportedly spoke informally with Assad at the ceremony.

Earlier today, more than 800,000 Jordanians, many shouting "Allahu Akhbar" and wiping tears away with red-checked keffieyehs (headdress), lined the streets of the procession route in Amman under a grey sky. The wail of Koranic verses could be heard from nearby mosques.

Hussein died yesterday after a long battle with cancer.

Also see Russia: In Amman, Yeltsin Tries to Reaffirm His Role