CLAMART, France – Tests on Yasser Arafat (search) showed problems with his digestion, but the Palestinian leader has recovered sufficiently to undergo examinations that could not have been done when he was first rushed to France, an aide said Tuesday.
Arafat, 75, felt well enough to follow the U.S. election, and over the past two days was able to talk with doctors, colleagues and heads of state, Palestinian officials said.
Nevertheless, there was still no public information about the cause of his dramatic deterioration in health.
Leila Shahid, the Palestinian envoy to France, said tests showed an improvement in Arafat's white blood cell count but also "persistent abnormalities" in indicators for digestive function. Initial tests had "confirmed an abnormal blood count, high white blood cell count and low platelet count and ruled out the diagnosis of leukemia," she said.
"President Arafat's condition has improved sufficiently for him to undergo tests that would not have been performed upon admission," Shahid said, reading from a statement she said was drafted by the French military hospital treating Arafat and released with his consent.
"For the past 48 hours, he has been able to converse with his doctors and close relatives, colleagues and heads of state," she said.
Arafat, who has been ill for three weeks, took a turn for the worse Oct. 27, collapsing and briefly losing consciousness. Blood tests performed while he was still in Ramallah in the West Bank revealed a low blood platelet count. Platelets are blood components that aid clotting.
Physicians gave Arafat a platelet transfusion shortly after he was tranferred to a military hospital near Paris on Friday.
Israel military intelligence's latest judgment is that doctors had not completed their diagnosis but were considering that Arafat had either a viral stomach disorder that can be treated or some form of stomach cancer, according to an Israeli official.
Fathi Arafat (search), a brother of the Palestinian leader, is being treated at a Cairo hospital for advanced cancer, hospital officials in Egypt said Tuesday.
Palestinian officials have said their leader is feeling much better since he arrived in France and that he does not suffer from leukemia, cancer or any type of poisoning.
"He was in a very good mood," said a close aide, Mohammed Rashid. "He followed up on the situation in the territories. ... He condemned the attack in Tel Aviv (search) as well as the Israeli attacks in the Palestinian territories."
Arafat felt well enough to follow the U.S. election, according to Rashid.
"Of course President Arafat does, because it has a huge impact on everybody," Rashid said. "There is no politician in the world who is not watching this election."
Christian Estripeau, head of communications for French military health services, said doctors are still performing tests.
"When we have the results, we can release them if the family authorizes it, if the president authorizes it," he said.