- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2007

12:07 p.m.

BAGHDAD (AP) — The leader of Iraq’s largest Shi’ite political party has left for the United States for medical checkups, an official at his office said today.

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim flew to the United States on Wednesday, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

Mr. al-Hakim, re-elected last week as leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, is not known to be suffering any health problems, but he is a heavy smoker. He addressed a press conference May 12 at the end of a two-day conference of his party, founded in neighboring Iran in the early 1980s.

Mr. al-Hakim, who has led his party since 2003, is believed to be in his late 50s or early 60s.

He had a White House meeting with President Bush in December.

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