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Iraqi president heads to Germany for medical treatment

By Ashley Fantz, CNN
updated 8:25 AM EST, Thu December 20, 2012
[File photo] Iraq's President Jalal Talabani in Istanbul on December 23, 2010.
[File photo] Iraq's President Jalal Talabani in Istanbul on December 23, 2010.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jalal Talabani was hospitalized earlier this week in Iraq
  • A Kurdish lawmaker said Talabani had a stroke
  • Talabani's office said he was suffering from hardening of the arteries

Read a version of this story in Arabic.

(CNN) -- Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is headed to Germany under the care of a specialized medical team for medical treatment, Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman said Thursday.

Talabani is in stable condition, his office has said.

Talabani was rushed to a Baghdad hospital Monday night in deteriorating health because of hardening of his arteries, his office told the media.

But Othman, who is close to Talabani, said earlier this week that the 79-year-old leader had suffered a stroke.

"His health condition is not very good," he said.

Read more: Iraq's president in stable condition, office says

The president's office on Tuesday released a statement saying that Talabani was exhausted.

"Recently, His Excellency President Jalal Talabani spent exhaustive efforts in order to accomplish harmony and stability in the country. Due to fatigue and exhaustion, His Excellency had a health emergency," the office said.

Talabani was elected president of Iraq in 2005, in the nation's first free elections in more than 50 years. This is not the first time he has dealt with serious medical issues. At times, the exact nature of his ailments has been shrouded in secrecy.

In February 2007, he fell ill and was flown to Jordan for treatment, and there were conflicting reports about what prompted his hospitalization. A hospital source told CNN at the time that doctors performed a catheterization procedure on his heart, but his family and aides denied that.

Talabani's doctor and a spokesman for the president's office said then that he was suffering from exhaustion and lung inflammation, and underwent tests they described as precautionary.

He did not return to Iraq until March of that year.

Two months later, Talabani left for medical tests and to lose weight, his office said. He did not return until June.

In January 2012, he had spinal surgery in Germany.

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Hamdi Alkhshali contributed to this report.

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