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Palestinian President Abbas confirms medical checks, says results 'positive'

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RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed on Thursday that he went into hospital in the United States for medical checks, saying in a television interview that the results were “positive.”

Abbas, 82, flew to the United States to address the U.N. Security Council in New York on Feb. 20. He had been expected to travel on to Venezuela, but on Thursday Palestinian officials confirmed that he was still in the United States and was undergoing routine medical checks in the city of Baltimore.

Abbas confirmed this on Thursday, after the tests.

“Our presence here was a suitable chance for us to make some medical checks,” Abbas told Palestine TV during a short interview. “We actually made those checks and we are out now and, thank God, all results are positive and are assuring. This is God’s blessing on us.”

Palestinian officials said he would be returning to the West Bank on Friday. They did not disclose when Abbas went into hospital nor the nature of the medical checks.

In October 2016, Abbas was taken to hospital in the West Bank without prior public announcement for heart function tests which, a doctor said, showed normal results.

Abbas became Palestinian president after the death in 2004 of Yasser Arafat. He pursued peace talks with Israel but the negotiations broke down in 2014.

There had been no new coverage of Abbas on the official Palestinian news agency Wafa since Feb. 20, when he met with delegations after his U.N. speech.

It is unusual for there to be a two-day gap in communication on Wafa about the president’s affairs when he has official engagements scheduled.

Reporting by Stephen Farrell; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Daniel Wallis