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Leaders foreign and domestic prepare goodbyes to Bush

AFP  |  Washington 

International dignitaries will join US leaders present and past on Wednesday in saying their final goodbyes to former George Bush, whose life will be honoured at a funeral service in

The nation's 41st president, who died Friday at age 94, has lain in state since late Monday in the

Tens of thousands of Americans have quietly filed in to pay their respects to a man who steered the nation through turbulent times including the end of the Cold War -- and in a style dramatically different from the bombast and combativeness championed by the current commander-in-chief,

The country's five living presidents -- Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Bush's son George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Trump -- are scheduled to attend the service at National Cathedral, the Neo-Gothic spiritual center point of the US capital.

Britain's will be there, as will German Angela Merkel, and of Jordan, and former Polish Lech Walesa, among others.

Trump's ascendancy to the of the saw him exchange vitriolic attacks with the Bushes, including mocking Bush senior's "thousand points of light" phrase and slamming the presidential son's 2003 invasion of as "one of the worst decisions in the history of our country."

But he has taken pains to demonstrate unity since Bush's death, and made a low-key visit to the Capitol late Monday with to salute Bush's casket.

And on the eve of the state funeral, the couple met with and former at the presidential guest residence Blair House.

Trump's relations with the Republican establishment have been rocky since his insurgent campaign took him to the party's nomination and then a shock election win in 2016.

He did not attend the funeral this year of George H.W. Bush's wife Barbara Bush, even though other presidents were there.

Trump has declared Wednesday a of mourning. Many federal offices will be closed along with Wall Street stock markets.

has also suspended votes -- even in the midst of a looming potential shutdown that requires congressional action before midnight Friday.

The passing of Bush, only the second to see his son follow him to the Oval Office, has led Americans to reflect on his life of duty and service to country as a of the so-called "Greatest Generation."

At a time of extraordinary and deep political fissures, Bush was looked to this week as a gracious, humble servant of country who aimed to bridge the divide.

"Quite frankly I think it's more important in many cases than the policies of a president," Monica Harisson, who worked eight years for the Reagan administration, told AFP.

"We can agree or disagree with the policies. But if we respect the human being, I think it's a much broader framework for civility and good will in the country."

Bush was a decorated World War II aviator who nearly lost his life when he was shot down on a bombing mission.

He served as to China, of the Central Intelligence Agency, and before winning the

The former president struggled for years with Parkinson's disease, which left him wheelchair-bound and often hospitalized -- including after Barbara's death.

After the service, Bush's casket will be flown back to The former of state will lie in repose at St Martin's Episcopal Church, where the Bushes worshipped for decades, until Thursday's funeral.

He will be interred at the George H.Presidential Library Center in College Station, Texas, next to his wife, who died in April, and their daughter who died of at age three.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, December 05 2018. 12:00 IST