Mubarak's health raises concerns

Egyptian President Husni Mubarak has called off a scheduled meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya, prompting questions about his health.

    The Egyptian leader has had previous health scares

    Quraya will instead meet intelligence chief General Umar Suleiman and presidential adviser Usama al-Baz on Thursday, said a Palestinian official who asked not to be named. He gave no explanation why the meeting was called off.

    Mubarak appeared on state television on Wednesday night just hours after a London-based Islamist group alleged he had been admitted to hospital in critical condition.

    The president, who is 76, was shown meeting with Defence Minister Muhammad Hussain Tantawi and then talking to two reporters outside what appeared to be his residence.

    During the brief encounter, Mubarak confirmed that Cairo had offered to train Palestinian security forces as part of efforts to prepare for a planned unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Gaza Strip.

    Planned Israeli pullout was on
    agenda for Mubarak-Quraya talks

    The Mubarak-Tantawi meeting was originally scheduled for Thursday, but was brought forward, according to an official source.

    State television said Mubarak held talks earlier on Wednesday with the outgoing director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, but did not air footage of the meeting.

    Failing health?
    The president's appearance on television followed a report by al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies that cited unidentified sources in Cairo as saying Mubarak had been hospitalised.

    In a statement, the centre run by Egyptian Islamists claimed the president's health had deteriorated on Tuesday.
    In November, illness forced Mubarak to halt a keynote speech to parliament for 45 minutes before he returned, still pale and hoarse, to finish his remarks. Officials said at the time Mubarak was suffering from "severe 'flu".

    According to diplomatic sources, the president recently underwent medical tests for persistent pain in the knee joints which caused him to stumble during a 27-29 May visit to Moscow.



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