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Arafat's condition worsens

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November 10, 2004 09:12 IST

Yasser Arafat, deeply comatose after another downturn in his already critical condition, was clinging to life in a French hospital as reports came in late on Tuesday.

His major organs were still functioning but his survival dependent "on the will of God," the Palestinian foreign minister said.

Palestinian leaders made preparations for Arafat's eventual death, said by at least one aide to be perhaps just hours away. A committee was formed to handle Arafat's burial at his sandbagged headquarters in the West Bank, which will be turned into a shrine with a mosque, Palestinian officials said on Tuesday.

But the 75-year-old leader, whose condition has steadily worsened since he was rushed to Paris on October 29, will not be unplugged from life support, Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said.

Shaath, part of a senior visiting Palestinian delegation led by current caretaker leaders Ahmed Qureia and Mahmoud Abbas, also said there were no immediate plans to repatriate Arafat.

"There is no talk of his return until he is cured. The treatment he is getting here is excellent and so there is no talk of any premature return," Shaath said.

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