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Palestinian Minister Says Arafat Is Alive

9 November 2004 -- Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said tonight that veteran Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is still alive, but his condition is very grave.

Speaking at a press conference in Paris, Shaath said he wanted to dispel rumors that Arafat had died.

He said Arafat has been in a coma since 3 November at a French military hospital near Paris where he was admitted more than a week ago.

Shaath said no specific illness has been established. But he said Arafat is not suffering from cancer, and that his brain, heart, and lungs are still functioning.

He said French doctors believe a chain of events, including the difficult conditions in which Arafat has been living in recent years, are responsible for his health condition.

Shaath is one of a group of top Palestinian officials who yesterday flew to Paris, headed by Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei. He said only one of the group was allowed to actually see Arafat today.