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Former Iraqi President and Iraqi Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani has died in a Berlin hospital at age 83, according to Kurdish officials.

Talabani was born near Erbil in 1933.

Talabani was an advocate for Kurdish rights and democracy in Iraq for more than 50 years. He lived in Sulaimaniya, a stronghold of his PUK, the main rival of Barzani's KDP. Apart from his native Kurdish language, Talabani is fluent in Arabic, Persian, and English.

Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish leader who served as Iraq's president between 2005 and 2014, has died at the age of 83.

He was elected president of post-invasion Iraq in 2005 and was re-elected for a second term in 2010. But his health condition and long absence have caused a decline in his influence.

Talabani's death was announced on Tuesday amid a major rift between the autonomous Kurdistan Region and the Arab-led central government in Baghdad.

Marking the end of the USA military presence in Iraq in December 2011, Talabani conferred upon coalition officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, the "shield of commitment medal".

At a rally in Sulaimani, heartland of the PUK, before Kurdistan's disputed independence referendum last month, Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani said the quest for independence would have been easier if Talabani was in better health.


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