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Inquiry Into Cause Of Arafat Death

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia ordered an inquiry Wednesday to determine the cause of death of former leader Yasser Arafat.

The commission will take testimony from Palestinian and other Arab doctors in an effort to remove questions surrounding the Palestinian leader's death in a French military hospital last week, a statement from Qureia's office said.

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    The Percy Military Training Hospital, where Arafat died, has refused to publicly reveal his cause of death or hand over medical records to anyone but his widow Suha, who has remained silent.

    The secrecy has caused some Palestinian leaders to charge that Arafat was poisoned, though Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath has ruled out that possibility.

    Jordanian neurologist Ashraf al-Kurdi, who attended the ailing Arafat at his West Bank headquarters in Ramallah, has called for an autopsy.

    The commission will approach French authorities again. Rauhi Fattouh, interim head of the Palestinian Authority, said Wednesday a Palestinian delegation would travel to France for the investigation.

    "We've already presented a request to the French government, but this delegation will go to France to explore all issues related to President Arafat's death," Fattouh told reporters.

    He did not say when the delegation would leave for France.

    The commission, which will be headed by Health Minister Jawad Tibi, will also follow up with Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian and Tunisian medical teams "which did medical tests on President Arafat in Ramallah, in order to get the available information about the sickness of President Arafat, and the reasons of his death," a commission statement said.

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