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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Former US President George HW Bush dies aged 94

Former US president George HW Bush, the father of George W, has died aged 94, his office said in a statement on Saturday.

"George Herbert Walker Bush, World War II naval aviator, Texas oil pioneer, and 41st President of the United States of America, died on November 30, 2018," the statement said.

"He...is survived by his five children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, and two siblings. He was preceded in death by his wife of 73 years, Barbara."

It said that funeral arrangements would be made as soon is possible.

George W Bush called his father a "man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for," in a statement announcing his death.

"The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41's life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens."

Bush's passing comes just months after the death in April of his wife and revered first lady Barbara Bush - his "most beloved woman in the world" - to whom he was married for 73 years.

President Donald Trump released a statement that hailed Bush's "unflappable leadership".

"Melania and I join with a grieving nation to mourn the loss of former President George H W Bush, who passed away last night," his statement said.

The 41st American president was a foreign policy realist who navigated the turbulent but largely peaceful fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 and assembled an unprecedented coalition to defeat Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein two years later.

Bush's foreign policy acumen was praised by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash, in a message of condolence posted on Twitter.

Dr Gargash hailed the late president for his "able and steady handling of historical changes in the international system" and for "his critical leadership in the liberation of Kuwait".

A decorated war pilot and former CIA chief, Bush suffered the ignominy of being a one-term president, denied a second term over a weak economy when he lost the 1992 election to upstart Democrat Bill Clinton.

His favouring of stability and international consensus stands in sharp contrast to the provocative bluster of fellow Republican and current White House occupant Donald Trump, a man whom Bush did not vote for in 2016.

Bush presided over economic malaise at home, and infuriated his fellow Republicans during a budget battle with rival Democrats by famously breaking his vow: "Read my Lips: No new taxes."

But he was the respected patriarch of a blue-blood political dynasty - son George spent eight years in the White House, and son Jeb served as governor of Florida.

In his post-presidency, Bush turned to philanthropy - he joined forces with Mr Clinton to raise funds for victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

He worked with Mr Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama and son George to raise money for hurricane victims in Texas in 2017.

"I am profoundly grateful for every minute I spent with President Bush and will always hold our friendship as one of my life's greatest gifts," Mr Clinton said in a statement.

In 2011, Mr Obama awarded Bush the highest US civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

"America has lost a patriot and humble servant in George Herbert Walker Bush. While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude," Mr Obama and his wife Michelle said in a statement.

At the time of his death, Bush was the American president to have lived the longest.

Jimmy Carter was born a few months later, so he could quickly reset the record.