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Talabani in US to lose weight

BAGHDAD: Tired and battling obesity, Iraqi President JALAL TALABANI flew to the US yesterday for rest and help in tackling his weight problem.Talabani, in his early 70s, left from the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya in northeastern Iraq for a trip that could take several weeks.

His office denied local media reports that Talabani was suffering from any specific illness and said he was in general good health apart from his weight.

"I don't have any health problems except my obesity and I will treat it, God willing," Talabani said.

"I will go ... to the US to undergo general medical checks to reduce my weight." The former Kurdish rebel leader returned to his office in mid-March after two weeks in a Jordanian hospital, vowing that he was with Iraqis "until the final breath".

Talabani flew to Jordan on a medically equipped US military plane in February suffering from extreme fatigue and dehydration. His position as president is largely ceremonial but he is an influential figure at home and in Washington.

The Washington Post newspaper reported that Abdul Aziz Al Hakim, the leader of Iraq's biggest Shi'ite party in parliament, was in the US undergoing treatment for lung cancer.



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