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Trump, Washington elite honour the late former president Bush

WASHINGTON: Washington's political elite paid tribute to former US president George H.W. Bush as his body lay in state in the Capitol on Monday.

Before a grieving Bush family and with hands on hearts, members of Mr Bush's Cabinet, lawmakers and Supreme Court justices honoured him as his flag-draped casket entered the soaring Capitol Rotunda for the first official ceremony.

In the evening, after the family and dignitaries had left, US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania paid their respects, standing for two minutes before the casket.

Mr Trump then saluted the casket.

The patriarch's body was accompanied by his son, former president George W. Bush, on the flight aboard the presidential plane from Texas to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, and then on a trip down Pennsylvania Avenue to the steps of the Capitol.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the late Mr Bush as a "humble servant" and "a principled leader".

"He kept us flying high and challenged us to fly higher still, and he did it with modesty and kindness that would've been surprising in someone one-tenth as tough and accomplished as he was," he said.

Mr Bush died at his Houston home last Friday night at the age of 94, seven months after the death of his wife, Barbara.

His passing prompted an outpouring of praise from Republicans and Democrats for his kind manner and dedication to public service.

"He was a beautiful, lovely man, it was an honour to work with him, he was beloved," Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, expected to be the next Speaker of the US House of Representatives, told Reuters.

Democratic and Republican leaders laid floral wreaths around Mr Bush's casket.

"His example will always inspire, and his lifetime of service will be enshrined in the hearts of the American people forever," said Vice-President Mike Pence.

After the ceremony, members of the public were allowed to pay their respects.

Mourners lined up in the afternoon, many speaking with nostalgia for the courtesy of the Bush era, in contrast to today's bitter divisions.

"I think it's night and day," said Ms Sheila Murray, 58, who came from Maryland with her 14-year-old son Thomas.

" I would want to encourage mums to look at what good leaders are..."

After services in Washington, there will be a funeral in Houston tomorrow, followed by burial in College Station, Texas. - REUTERS

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