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Flags fly half-mast as world mourns ex-president Bush

  Jerusalem Sunday

Flags flew at half-mast across the United States on Saturday as Americans prepared for a week of solemn tributes to George HW Bush, in his home state of Texas and in the US Capitol, a day after the former president died at age 94.

Tributes poured in from world leaders in memory of the 41st US president, who guided America through the end of the Cold War and launched the international campaign to drive Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait.

Many of those same leaders are expected to attend Bush’s state funeral next week, alongside President Donald Trump and his wife Melania. Trump was notably absent from funerals of the statesman’s late wife Barbara, and of fellow Republican John McCain.

Although the two Republican presidents were in many ways polar opposites—the soft-spoken, Bush reportedly once dismissed the blustering New Yorker as a “blowhard” and even voted for his rival Hillary Clinton —Trump paid the late leader a gracious tribute, saying he had “inspired generations of Americans to public service.”

“His accomplishments were great from beginning to end,” Trump tweeted. Declaring a national day of mourning for December 5, when the federal government and New York Stock Exchange will close in Bush’s honour, Trump also signaled his respect by calling off a press conference planned at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

The national farewell to Bush will begin Monday with a commemoration in Houston, where he died on Friday surrounded by friends and family.  From there, Bush’s casket will travel to Washington on board Trump’s presidential aircraft.     -AFPmatist who led the United States through the turbulent end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union.

He declared a “new world order” in 1990 and — backed by a 32-nation coalition — drove Iraq from Kuwait with a lightning air and ground assault.

The crushing sanctions he imposed on Iraq, however, were blamed by Iraqis for thousands of deaths, drawing him the bitter nickname of “Mr Embargo.”

And Panamanians said his invasion of their country in 1989 claimed hundreds of civilian lives. But it was primarily a weak economy at home that cost him the 1992 election, won by upstart Democrat Bill Clinton.

In his later years, Bush turned to philanthropy, joining forces with Clinton to raise funds for victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and with ex-presidents Clinton, Carter, Barack Obama and son George to raise money for hurricane victims in Texas last year.

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