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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 October, 2004, 04:40 GMT
Arafat's illness not fatal - aide
Crowds of supporters wave off Yasser Arafat from Ramallah
Crowds of supporters waved off Yasser Arafat from Ramallah
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's medical tests in France show that he is not suffering from any life-threatening condition, a senior aide has said.

Nabil Abu Rdainah told the Reuters news agency that whatever ailment Mr Arafat had was curable.

Earlier, doctors treating Mr Arafat said they had so far ruled out the possibility he had leukaemia.

Medical staff will not reach a diagnosis until Wednesday, according to a Palestinian spokeswoman.

We are in touch with the president and still receiving his instructions
Mahmoud Abbas
Former Palestinian Prime Minister

Mr Arafat is being treated at a military hospital outside Paris.

The hospital specialises in blood disorders and doctors there have been carrying out a series of medical tests including brain and body scans, as well as blood tests, to try to find the cause of Mr Arafat's mystery illness.

"The latest tests have found that President Arafat does not suffer from any life-threatening illness and what he has is curable," Mr Abu Rdainah told Reuters.

Empty chair

On Saturday, the Palestinian leadership met without Mr Arafat for the first time.

The executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, standing in as PLO chairman during Mr Arafat's absence, chaired the weekly meeting. Mr Arafat's chair was left empty.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Yasser Arafat
I wish him a speedy recovery
Amin, Birmingham, UK

After the meeting, Mr Abbas said Palestinian institutions would continue to function normally.

"We are in touch with the president and still receiving his instructions as he is head of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation," he said.

A former minister under Mr Abbas, Ziad Amr, told AFP news agency the meeting was aimed at ensuring there was no "constitutional void" should Mr Arafat die or become incapacitated.

The day-to-day affairs of the Palestinian Authority are in the hands of the Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei.

He was due to convene the National Security Council - responsible for the security forces in the West Bank and Gaza - for its weekly meeting on Sunday.

On Saturday, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy was killed in clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank town of Jenin, hospital officials said.

Low platelet count

Mr Arafat had been suffering stomach pains for more than two weeks before his condition worsened sharply on Wednesday night, prompting doctors to recommend treatment abroad.

Blood tests have revealed he has a low count of platelets, which are needed for clotting.

Mr Arafat left his battered compound in Ramallah for the first time in nearly three years.

Israel's government has said it will not hinder Mr Arafat's return to his compound after his treatment.

But Israeli defence and foreign ministers have suggested they might oppose that position.

Mr Abu Rudeinah insisted Israel had agreed to guarantees sought by the US, European and Arab nations that Mr Arafat would be allowed back.




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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Herald Tribune Aides Say Arafat Does Not Have Leukemia - 9 hrs ago
CBS News Leukemia Said Ruled Out For Arafat - 17 hrs ago
San Francisco Chronicle Ailing Arafat undergoes tests - 18 hrs ago
ABCNEWS.com Ailing Arafat Undergoes Tests in French Hospital - 20 hrs ago
Reuters UK Ailing Arafat undergoes tests in France - 20 hrs ago
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