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Iraqi president in Germany for medical treatment

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 20, 2012 at 7:42 a.m.

— Iraqi President Jalal Talabani arrived in Germany on Thursday for further medical treatment after suffering a stroke, leaving Baghdad without an influential mediator able to bridge the country’s complex ethnic and sectarian rifts.

The ailing 79-year-old president was rushed to a hospital in the Iraqi capital late Monday because of what was described as a medical emergency.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Thursday that doctors have determined the president had a “very serious stroke,” and that he is showing signs of improvement.

“He is starting to regain his senses. He is able to feel pain, and this is a sign of progress,” Zebari said.

Talabani’s spokesman, Nasser al-Ani, said the president is able to move some of his limbs and communicate with simple signals, but is unable to speak.

The decision to move Talabani to Germany was made after his condition was stabilized and he began to show signs of improvement, according to Iraqi officials.

Vice President Khudier al-Khuzaie, and Arab Shiite, will temporarily assume Talabani’s duties during his absence, Zebari said.

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