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Arafat to Undergo Gallbladder Surgery - 2003-10-21

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's doctors say he will soon undergo surgery for a gallbladder complaint, but is in otherwise fine physical condition. The announcement on Tuesday follows weeks of speculation that Mr. Arafat is suffering from serious health problems.

Senior aides to Mr. Arafat say that the 74-year-old Palestinian leader will require surgery soon to remove gallstones.

Palestinian officials have denied a growing media speculation in recent weeks that Mr. Arafat had either suffered a mild heart attack or had been diagnosed with cancer.

A senior Palestinian official said on Tuesday that Mr. Arafat had recently recovered from what he called a severe stomach infection.

The official said that Egyptian doctors, while examining Mr. Arafat for this ailment, had determined that his gallstones must be removed in the near future.

But Mr. Arafat's aides insist he is otherwise in good health and fully able to carry out his duties.