Palestinians' Fayyad had heart attack in U.S.

HOUSTON Tue May 24, 2011 6:15am IST

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad pauses during a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 14, 2011.  REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/Files

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad pauses during a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman/Files

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HOUSTON (Reuters) - Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad suffered a heart attack while visiting the United States, and a hospital spokeswoman said he was in good condition on Monday.

"Mr. Fayyad's condition is good," said Adrienne Lallo, a spokeswoman for Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas.

Fayyad, an internationally respected former World Bank economist born in 1952, suffered a heart attack on Sunday in Austin where he was attending his son's university graduation, Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib told Reuters from Ramallah in the West Bank.

Fayyad underwent a catheterization at the hospital on Monday, Khatib said.

Fayyad's future as prime minister has been up in the air following a reconciliation deal struck this month between the Fatah Palestinian faction that governs the West Bank and the Hamas Islamist faction that holds sway in the Gaza Strip.

The Islamist group Hamas has expressed opposition to his leadership, but Izaat al-Rishq, a senior Hamas official, has been quoted as saying the idea of him remaining prime minister in the new government would be studied.

Fayyad's supporters say his standing abroad is a major asset to the Palestinians as they aim to seek recognition of their statehood from the U.N. General Assembly in September.

In Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent Fayyad a note wishing him a speedy recovery, said a statement issued by Netanyahu's spokesman.

Netanyahu, who along with the United States opposes the unilateral Palestinian statehood bid, wraps up a five-day visit to the U.S. capital on Tuesday with an address on Middle East peace to a joint meeting of Congress.

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta, Anna Driver, Kristen Hays, Arshad Mohammed and Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Eric Beech)

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