By Suadad al-Salhy and Ahmed Rasheed
BAGHDAD | Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:57am EST
(Reuters) - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd who has mediated among Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish parties, was in hospital on Tuesday after suffering a stroke that left him in "critical but stable condition", government officials and lawmakers said.
Without Talabani, Iraq would lose an influential peace-maker who often eased tensions in the fragile power-sharing government and negotiated in the growing rift over oil between Baghdad and the OPEC member country's autonomous Kurdistan region.
Reports on his medical condition varied. Three government sources said he was in critical condition, but his office said the 79-year-old president was stable under intensive medical supervision after receiving treatment for blocked arteries.
"President Talabani has suffered a light stroke. His condition is stable now and doctors are closely monitoring him and if they decide he should be transferred outside then he'll go," veteran Kurdish politician Mahmoud Othman, a close Talabani associate who was in the Baghdad hospital.