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Arafatís condition worsens

By Brian Knapp

News Wire


Yasser Arafat is in a coma and his condition worsened overnight, a hospital spokesman said Tuesday, as top Palestinian officials met with doctors and sought to visit their critically ill leader over his wife's angry objections.

The announcement by Gen. Christian Estripeau, spokesman for the Percy Military Training Hospital outside Paris, was the first time the French medical team treating Arafat publicly acknowledged that the 75-year-old is in a coma ó and has been for the past week.

"President Yasser Arafat's health worsened in the night," said Estripeau. "His coma, which led to his admission to the intensive care unit, became deeper this morning." Arafat was put in intensive care on Nov. 3, five days after he was rushed to France.

Estripeau said doctors were withholding a prognosis but that his deterioration marked "a significant stage."

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said Arafat was in a "very difficult and serious" situation. He spoke after he and top Arafat lieutenants Ahmed Qureia and Mahmoud Abbas met with Arafat's doctors for a detailed briefing on his condition.

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