Palestinian president Abbas leaves hospital after heart tests

October 6, 2016 8:19 AM EDT

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks to the media in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 23, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/File Photo


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RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas left a West Bank hospital on Thursday after undergoing heart function tests which showed normal results, a doctor said.

He walked out of the hospital, beaming and waving to reporters, before being whisked away in his presidential motorcade.

"Thank God everything is fine, I had the surgery, it was easy and I'm leaving now," said Abbas, who spoke briefly to Palestine TV before leaving hospital.

Abbas, 81, was taken to the facility without prior public announcement earlier in the day. He has long been reported to be suffering from heart problems but Palestinian political officials have never confirmed this.

"The president was hospitalized today for routine tests and we performed a (cardiac) catheterization. The results look normal," Saeed Sarahneh, a senior doctor at Istishari Arab Hospital in the West Bank city of Ramallah, told reporters while Abbas was still at the hospital.

In the procedure, a thin plastic tube is inserted into an artery or vein, and then advances into the heart chambers to diagnose and clear any blockage.

Attending the funeral in Jerusalem on Friday of Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, Abbas showed no outward sign of ill health. At the ceremony, he briefly chatted and shook hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Abbas became Palestinian president after the death in 2004 of Yasser Arafat. The Western-backed Abbas has pursued peace talks with Israel but the negotiations broke down in 2014.

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta; Writing by Jeffrey Heller and Ori Lewis; Editing by Dominic Evans)



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