Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani, the country’s first Kurdish head of state who has maintained close relations with the Arab nation’s rival factions, was hospitalized in Baghdad due to “exhaustion,” his office said.
“Talabani has lately exerted intensive efforts to achieve reconciliation and stability in the country,” according to a statement from the president’s office on his website. “Due to exhaustion and fatigue, His Excellency had a health complication after which he was taken to hospital late Monday.”
Media including CNN, the British Broadcasting Corp. and the Associated Press reported that Talabani, 79, suffered a stroke. He has been president since 2005, when he became the first democratically elected head of state in 50 years after a U.S.- led military invasion ousted the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Talabani began his political career in the 1950s and founded the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in 1975. His Peshmerga militia battled Hussein’s army in the 1970s and 1980s and following the 1991 U.S.-led invasion, he led a Kurdish uprising against the Iraqi government.
The statement didn’t provide details about Talabani’s condition.
Iraq sits on the world’s fifth-biggest crude reserves, according to BP Plc statistics that include Canada’s oil sands.