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Cablegate: Death of Mohammad Zahir Shah - Former Afghan King

VZCZCXRO9955
OO RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #2361 2041424
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 231424Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9246
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS KABUL 002361

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO DAS GASTRIGHT, SCA/A
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR HARRIMAN
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CG CFC-A, CG CJTF-82 POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV AF
SUBJECT: DEATH OF MOHAMMAD ZAHIR SHAH - FORMER AFGHAN KING
AND FATHER OF THE NATION


1. (U) Summary: The Presidential Palace announced on
Monday, July 23, that Mohammad Zahir Shah, the former King
of Afghanistan has died. The funeral and burial ceremonies
have been scheduled for Tuesday, July 24 from 3:00 pm to
6:00 pm. Ambassador Wood will represent the USG at the
funeral and has issued a press statement and condolence
letter to President Karzai. End Summary.

2. (U) Zahir Shah's funeral is scheduled for Tuesday, July
24, from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The Ambassador will represent
the USG at the funeral and has issued a press statement
(see text in para 4). Suggested language for press
statements from President Bush and Secretary Rice have
also been forwarded to the Department (SCA/A and SCA/PPD).
The American flag at Embassy Kabul will be lowered during
the three-day mourning period declared by President Karzai.

3. (U) Crowned in 1914, Mohammad Zahir Shah was the last
king of Afghanistan, but spent three decades in exile in
Italy beginning in 1973. Upon his return to Afghanistan in
2002, he stepped aside to make way for a democratically
elected president. The 2004 Constitution bestowed him
with the title "Father of the Nation," a position that
will disappear with his death. Though not regarded as a
particularly strong leader, Zahir Shah remained an
important symbol of peace and unity in the country until
his death. President Karzai shared a close personal
relationship with the former King. Some 30,000 Afghans
are reportedly expected to travel to Kabul to pay their
last respects during the funeral.

4. (U) Text of press statement released by the Ambassador
on Monday, July 23: "We are saddened to learn about the
passing of Mohammad Zahir Shah, Former King and Father of
the Nation, today in Afghanistan. The United States
expresses its condolences to his family and to the people
and government of Afghanistan. The United States reaffirms
to the people of Afghanistan our commitment to Mohammad
Zahir Shah's vision of a united, democratic, prosperous,
and peaceful Afghanistan."
WOOD

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