Leaders arrive for Chavez funeral

Friday, March 8, 2013 - 9:21am

Leaders from all over the world were in Venezuela Friday for the funeral of Hugo Chavez, joining a nation that continued to mourn.

One of the heads of state that had arrived early Friday was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who had kind words for Chavez as he came off a plane in the capital, Caracas.

"He was a dear friend of all nations worldwide," Ahmadinejad said to the crowd and the Venezuelan state broadcaster VTV there. "He was the emotional pillar for all the revolutionary and freedom-seeking people of the region and the world."

The funeral for Chavez, who died at 58 Tuesday after a battle with cancer, will be held Friday in Caracas. That night Nicolas Maduro, who was the nation's vice president, is scheduled to be sworn in as interim president.

Maduro Thursday told the nation, which in a seven-day period of mourning, that Chavez's body will be embalmed.

"The body of our leader will be embalmed, and it will ... be surrounded by crystal glass forever, present forever, and always with his people," Nicolas Maduro said on state-run TV.

Cuban President Raul Castro, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos were among the leaders already in Venezuela early Friday.

In all at least 50 different countries were sending delegates for the funeral, Maduro said.

-- CNN's Mitra Mobasherat contributed to this report.

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