Fresh concern raised over Arafat's health

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The Independent Online

The health of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, deteriorated significantly yesterday prompting doctors in France to conduct further tests.

The health of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, deteriorated significantly yesterday prompting doctors in France to conduct further tests.

Mr Arafat has been treated in a French military hospital since being airlifted from his Ramallah compound in the West Bank last week. While he appeared to be making a recovery, it emerged yesterday his health had taken a turn for the worse over the previous 24 hours.

Leila Shahid, the Palestinian envoy, confirmed 75-year-old Arafat had suffered a setback but insisted that his life was not in danger. "Obviously in his case, there could be setbacks at times and this is a setback, The doctors will give a very clear and direct explanation and report on what is happening."

While Palestinian aides have insisted that the leader does not have leukaemia, doctors are continuing to conduct tests.

Mr Arafat's health deteriorated hours after he sent a message to George W Bush, the US president, to congratulate him on his re-election.

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