||Arab, world leaders offer condolences over death of King Fahd
Cairo, Aug. 1 (AP): Arab nations announced mourning periods, an Arab summit was abruptly postponed and Mideast leaders prepared today to attend the funeral of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd, whose close ties with the United States and control over the world's largest oil supplies made him one of the region's most influential figures.
Jordan - which like many Arab nations benefited from Saudi oil-financed investments - set a 40-day period of mourning. Some officials started jetting off to Saudi Arabia to attend the late king's funeral in Riyadh tomorrow.
"Saudi Arabia has lost one of its dutiful sons, a leader among the most dear of its leaders and men," said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who planned to attend Fahd's funeral.
An emergency Arab summit that Mubarak had called in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik in the wake of the August 23 terror attacks there was postponed until later this month.
Among the first leaders heading to the summit was Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who upon touching down in Sharm heard of Fahd's death and ordered his plane take off again to return to Yemen.
In Saudi Arabia, government offices remained open and oil pumping continued. Flags remained at full-staff because lowering the green Saudi flag would be seen as demeaning to the name of God.
Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and the Cairo-based Arab League announced three days of mourning.
Lebanon's Shiite Muslim Hezbollah guerrilla group expressed condolences in a statement to the Saudi people and praised Fahd for his role in the 1989 Taif Accord which ended Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, lauded Fahd as a wise leader who sought better relations between Islam and the West.
"He supported a dialogue of the Islamic world with the West with wisdom, far-sightedness and great personal engagement," Schroeder said in a message of condolences to King Abdullah, who succeeded his half brother King Fahd today.
In Paris, the French presidential palace sent its condolences to Saudis, praising Fahd as a respected ruler and a friend of France.
"During his reign, Fahd was above all concerned about the security of his people," the statement said.
"With wisdom, he followed the evolution of the kingdom," said the statement.
But on Islamic websites where extremists post commentaries on the news, participants were cheering the death of a king who angered hard-line Muslims by allying himself with the United States and allowing US troops on Saudi soil.