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Azerbaijan: Conflicting Reports On Aliyev's Health

Baku, 5 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- There were conflicting reports today about the state of health of Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev, who has been hospitalized in a Turkish military clinic since early July. Azerbaijan's ANS private television station quoted diplomatic sources in Ankara as saying the 80-year-old leader would return to Baku on Thursday and that his condition was "normal."

But Turkey's Anadolu news agency said Aliyev would soon travel to the United States for further medical treatment.

Another Turkish media outlet, CNN-Turk, quoted military doctors in Ankara as saying Aliyev was currently connected to a respirator, could not talk, and was only occasionally conscious.

Aliyev, who will seek a third mandate next October, was flown to Ankara's Gulhane military clinic nearly a month ago, officially for a routine medical check-up. But he has not been seen in public since then.

Yesterday, Azerbaijan's parliament appointed Aliyev's 41-year-old son, Ilham, as prime minister, raising further speculation about the veteran leader's ability to run the country.