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Source: United States of America
29 October 2004

Arafat Should Receive Necessary Medical Help, White House Says

State's Boucher says situation is a health issue, not a political one

Washington -- President Bush says he is concerned about Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's ailing health.

"We're obviously concerned about his health, as we would be concerned about any leader's health," Bush said in an October 29 interview with USA Today. "There have been rumors about how sick he might be."

Bush added that U.S. embassies and consulates are "watching these developments very carefully."

U.S. officials have said the Bush administration's concern is to ensure that Arafat receives the medical help that he needs.

According to press reports, Arafat has been flown to a hospital near Paris to be treated for an undisclosed disease. This is his first trip outside his West Bank compound since being under virtual house arrest nearly three years ago.

"I am pleased that he is now in a sophisticated medical facility where his health condition can be more carefully assessed. And I trust he will get the treatment that he needs," Secretary of State Colin Powell said October 29 in an interview with Egyptian Television and Nile News.

Speaking at the October 28 State Department briefing, department spokesman Richard Boucher said U.S. officials have been in touch with senior-level Palestinians and Israelis as the situation has developed.

"We do understand that arrangements regarding his travel and medical care are being worked out in a constructive manner between Israelis and Palestinians ... we are staying in touch with them on that to see how that evolves," Boucher said.

However, Boucher said, the situation is not a political matter.

"It's a matter of seeing that an ill person gets the medical care they need for health," said Boucher. "That's our wish and our hope in this circumstance."

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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