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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Palestine's Abbas to spend more time in hospital

During his stay at hospital, Mr Abbas spoke to officials to reassure them of his health

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (R) reads a newspaper, with both sons next to him, as he recovers at a hospital in Ramallah, West Bank, on May 21, 2018. EPA
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (R) reads a newspaper, with both sons next to him, as he recovers at a hospital in Ramallah, West Bank, on May 21, 2018. EPA

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will remain in hospital for an eighth day on Sunday, his office said, contradicting earlier reports that he would be discharged.

The 83-year-old leader, a heavy smoker, is being treated for a lung infection at the Istishari Arab Hospital near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. He had been expected to be released from hospital on Sunday but this was postponed, Mr Abbas' office said in a text message.

Saed Sarahna, the head of the hospital, said on Saturday that Mr Abbas was in excellent health, but doctors had not yet decided the date of his release.

The Palestinian president was hospitalised on May 20 following an ear operation, while he also complained of chest pains.

During his stay at the hospital, Mr Abbas spoke to regional politicians and lawmakers to reassure them of his health.

He held talks with China's Middle East special envoy, Gong Xiaosheng, at Istishari hospital on Saturday, reported the Wafa Palestinian news agency.

Pictures of Mr Abbas walking around the hospital and reading a newspaper were released last week as his health has been the subject of much speculation.

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His hospital treatment has raised the question of succession, but no names have been announced on who might be the next president.

Earlier this year, Mr Abbas underwent "routine medical tests" in the United States.

In 2005, Mr Abbas won a four-year term as president, but he has since remained in office without further elections.

Mr Abbas says the split between his Fatah party and the Islamist Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, has made it impossible to hold elections.