Jordan's new King Abdullah has been formally sworn in as leader of the Hashemite Kingdom, after the death of his father King Hussein who died this morning aged 63. He had ruled for almost half a century.

In a televised address, the country's new leader said he would maintain his father's policies and called for national unity. King Hussein's funeral will be held tomorrow and is expected to be attended by some forty heads of state. Egypt has declared three days of national mourning.

President McAleese has sent a message of sympathy on behalf of the nation to the Crown Prince. In her message, the President said that the name of King Hussein would always be synonymous with the search for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

President McAleese and the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resource, Dr. Michael Woods, will leave Ireland for Amman this evening for tomorrow's funeral. The Government said that it had also learnt of King Hussein's death with deep regret. In a statement, the Government described the King as an indefatigable searcher for peace.