Rumors are swirling that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may soon head to Germany for health checks, in a face-saving exit that would likely be heralded as victory for demonstrators calling for his ouster and would also give Egypt's new vice president some breathing room to implement U.S.-backed reforms.
It's unclear whether the 82-year-old leader has any immediate health problems. But such a trip, under the guise of medical reasons, could be one way for Mubarak to plan a graceful departure from the political turmoil surrounding him, though it's unclear whether he's amenable to it. Last week, he delivered a speech on state TV vowing to die on Egyptian soil -- a jab at those demanding his exile.
Sources at a luxury hospital in southwest Germany told Der Spiegel newspaper that they're preparing for Mubarak's possible arrival, under a plan hatched by the U.S. government that would have Mubarak fly to Germany for a "prolonged health check." U.S. officials refused to comment on the report, and a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel told Dow Jones that Germany has received no requests to grant Mubarak exile.