KIRKUK, Iraq - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is now able to talk, his doctor said, adding he was hopeful the Kurdish statesman would soon be fit to return to Iraq from Germany, where he has been receiving medical treatment for a stroke.
A peace-maker who often mediated among Iraq's Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions, 79-year-old Talabani was flown abroad in December in critical condition.
"I am in continuous contact with the German team treating President Talabani," said Najmaldin Karim, who is also governor of the city of Kirkuk.
"He can talk now with the people around him and started to think in a good way. I and the German team are optimistic that he will get much better and can return back to Iraq soon."
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