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Body of late Kurdish leader arrives in Iraq for burial

BODY OF LATE KURDISH LEADER ARRIVES IN IRAQ FOR BURIAL

The body of Jalal Talabani, a former Iraqi president who passed away earlier this week, arrived on Friday to Iraq's northern city of Sulaymaniyah -- his hometown -- from German capital Berlin.

Talabani passed away Tuesday at a Berlin hospital following a long struggle with illness. He was 83 years old.

His body was received at the Sulaymaniyah Airport by his wife, Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, and his son, Qubad Talabani, who currently serves as deputy prime minister in northern Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

Iraqi President Fuad Masum, Vice President Nouri al-Maliki, Parliamentary Speaker Salim al-Jabouri, KRG President Masoud Barzani and KRG Prime Minister Nechervan Barzani were among those who attended the homecoming ceremony at the airport.

The ceremony was also attended by several Kurdish opposition figures, including Ali Bapir, head of the Kurdistan Islamic Society Party (Komel), and Omar Sayyid Ali, head of the Kurdish Movement for Change (Gorran) party.

A number of foreign officials also showed up at the airport to pay their respects to the late Kurdish leader, including Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

Following the homecoming ceremony, Talabani's body will be taken to Sulaymaniyah's Grand Mosque -- where funeral prayers will be performed -- before finally being laid to rest in the nearby village of Dabashan.

Born on Nov. 12, 1933 in Sulaymaniyah, Talabani was elected president of post-invasion Iraq in 2005, becoming the country's first Kurdish president. He was re-elected for a second presidential term in 2010.

Talabani was also the founder of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which he established in 1975 and for which he served several terms as secretary-general.

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