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Palestinian President Abbas leaves hospital

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waved to reporters as he left hospital after a "routine" heart test. Despite previous reports of angina, doctors say the 81-year-old's health is normal.

Abbas left a West Bank hospital on foot, smiling and waving on Thursday after spending the day undergoing what medical officials said were routine tests.

Dr. Mohammed al-Batrawi, a heart specialist who treated Abbas, said he ordered the president for testing after Abbas
felt tired and experienced chest pains at his office.

The assessments showed normal results, he added, and Abbas was discharged.

"His arteries look great, and there is no need for him to stay in the hospital," said al-Batrawi.

Abbas underwent a test and a procedure known as a cardiac catheterization. This involves inserting a tube into a blood vessel to test the heart's strength and clear any blockage.

The president has a history of health problems and was treated several years ago for prostate cancer. But reports of his angina have never been confirmed by Palestinian officials.

His sudden hospitalization puts to the fore the question of a likely leadership struggle in the Palestinian territories when he dies. 

Abbas was elected president in 2005 for a four-year term after the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

In 2007, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, dividing the Palestinians under two rival governments. Attempts at bridging differences between the West Bank and Gaza have failed. Abbas' death could trigger a power struggle, with no clear person to take over the leadership.

mm, cw/msh (AP, Reuters)

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