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Afghan Former King To Get Check-Up in France - 2002-09-19

Afghanistan's frail former king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, is going to France for a medical check-up.

The former monarch, who is in his late 80s, flew out of Kabul Wednesday. He is expected to be away about 10 days. His aides say he has no health problem and that the check-up is routine.

The trip is his first since he returned to Afghanistan in April to help establish a post-war government after nearly three decades of exile in Rome. President Hamid Karzai gave him the title "Father of the Nation" during the Loya Jirga that picked the new government. Zahir Shah has repeatedly rejected attempts by his followers to reinstate him as monarch.

For the past few months, the former king has been staying with members of his family in a residence at the presidential palace in Kabul.

He was ousted from power by his cousin in a bloodless coup in 1973 while in Rome for vacation and eye treatment.