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Mubarak Forced to Interrupt Speech Due to Illness - 2003-11-19

Egypt's Information Minister says it was severe flu that led to an abrupt halt of a speech by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He resumed the speech a short time later.

Egyptian television showed President Mubarak coughing and wiping perspiration from his brow moments before it cut the live broadcast of his keynote speech to parliament.

The 75-year-old president's voice seemed to slur just before the broadcast was halted.

President Mubarak reappeared 45 minutes later to enthusiastic applause, and spoke for about five minutes before adjourning the session.

The speech on Egypt's domestic and foreign policy had been postponed from an earlier date. His office said Mr. Mubarak was ill.

Officials attributed the incident to what they called a severe flu combined with the effects of the Ramadan fast.

Mr. Mubarak, who has led Egypt since 1981, is a key moderate leader in the region.