RABAT, Morocco — World leaders started to arrive in Morocco on Saturday for the funeral of King Hassan II.
"He was a great friend of the peace process," said President Clinton, who cut short a weekend Democratic Party fund-raiser. "He's done a lot of things that were very, very good for the United States and the world, and he was our friend." Clinton planned to fly to Morocco overnight to attend today's funeral.
At least 20 kings, princes and heads of state were expected to travel to Rabat for the largest funeral in Moroccan history.
French President Jacques Chirac said he would cut short a visit to Nigeria to attend the funeral. About 200 Israelis, including Prime Minister Ehud Barak, were scheduled to attend, Israeli army radio reported Saturday.
Thousands of ordinary Moroccans took to the streets across the country in a spontaneous outpouring of grief.
"Our father is dead; come out and grieve with us," a 300-strong crowd chanted as it marched through the center of Rabat, the capital. "Oh, peoples of the world, our dear king is dead!" another group of mourners shouted.
Most shops in Rabat were closed for a seven-day mourning period observed by the public. Hassan's family will mourn for 40 days, during which the nation's flags will fly at half-staff.
Crown Prince Sidi Mohammed, 36, who assumed the throne of the North African country hours after his father's death at age 70 Friday, came out of the palace in the afternoon to greet mourners.