Official: Palestinian PM suffered heart attack

AP News
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Posted: May 23, 2011 4:33 PM
Official: Palestinian PM suffered heart attack

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad suffered a heart attack while visiting the U.S. and is recovering at a Texas hospital, a spokesman said Monday.

Fayyad, who was born in 1952, was in Austin to attend the college graduation of his son, Khaled, when he felt strong chest pains Sunday, said the prime minister's spokesman, Jamal Zakout.

Fayyad, a heavy smoker, underwent tests showing a blockage in a coronary artery, Zakout said. Fayyad suffered a heart attack while at the Seton Medical Center in Austin, the spokesman said.

Doctors performed a catheterization to open the artery, Zakout said, adding that Fayyad is expected to leave the hospital in two days.

Fayyad has been prime minister since 2007. He was appointed after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired then-Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, following the violent Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.

Fayyad, a political independent, is based in the West Bank, while Hamas continues to control Gaza. Fayyad could lose his job as a result of a recent reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement.

Fayyad has developed close ties with Western leaders, who would like him to stay on as prime minister. The Palestinians receive hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid every year, and Fayyad has won praise for his efforts to build a Palestinian state from the ground up.