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Kuwaiti Emir Dies at 78

The Emir of Kuwait has died after a long illness at the age of 78. He had ruled the country for nearly 30 years - leading his government into exile during the Iraqi invasion of 1990 and then returning to oversee rebuilding Kuwait's shattered infrastructure.

The somber announcement came over Kuwaiti television, accompanied by verses from the Koran and a photo of the late emir.

The announcer says it is with great sorrow the royal court announces the death of Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait, who joined God at dawn on Sunday.

Kuwait has declared a 40-day period of mourning, and all government offices will be closed for three days.

Sheikh Jaber will be succeeded on the throne by his distant cousin, Crown Prince Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah, who is in his mid-70s and in poor health.

The late emir had been ill since suffering a brain hemorrhage five years ago. Kuwait's daily affairs have been run by the prime minister.