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Mubarak, 82, gives public speech after health rumours

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 82, spoke in a televised speech on Thursday, appearing in good health in his first public address since rumours that the leader in power since 1981 was dying of cancer.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak gestures during a news conference after a meeting with Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at Villa Madama in Rome May 19, 2010. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Speaking on the eve of the 58th anniversary of Egypt’s “July revolution,” days after a U.S. newspaper said he could have less than a year to live, the president had a busy week, meeting heads of states and attending military academy graduations.

“We celebrate today the anniversary of the revolution, remembering in admiration and respect those who led it,” he said in a recorded broadcast, appearing healthy but thinner than usual. He vowed to press ahead with economic reform.

The Washington Times said on Sunday Mubarak was thought by Western intelligence agencies to be suffering from terminal cancer affecting his stomach and pancreas.

Rumours about Mubarak’s health have rattled markets in the past because he has no designated successor. He has not picked a vice president, the post he held before taking office.

“Brother and sisters, economic growth and social justice are the goals we must aspire to today and tomorrow,” he said. “We have made significant achievements on that front and we will achieve more.”

Mubarak called on political parties to offer their “visions and solutions” as Egypt moves towards achieving those two goals.

Authorities have dismissed reports about a deterioration in Mubarak’s health as categorically false and stressed that the president had returned to a regular schedule of meetings with visiting officials. On Sunday he met Palestinian and Israeli leaders and other officials.

Mubarak had gallbladder surgery at Germany’s Heidelberg University Hospital in March, staying away from Egypt for nearly three weeks, his longest absence while in power.

Mubarak has not said whether he will run for a sixth six-year term in a presidential election in 2011. If he does not, his politician son Gamal, 46, is seen as a likely successor. Both Mubarak and his son deny any such plan.

The 1952 revolution was a bloodless coup led by military officers that brought an end to King Farouk’s rule and marked the end of direct British influence.

Reporting by Dina Zayed; editing by Andrew Roche