File - In this Nov. 17, 2009 file photo, then Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, center, reviews French troops at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Paris,France. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, pool)
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Former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who died Tuesday aged 83, was a charismatic leader of the Kurdish independence struggle who became Iraq's first non-Arab head of state.Widely known as "Mam [Uncle] Jalal," the barrel-chested Talabani performed a delicate balancing act in a fraught region and was seen as being close to both the United States and its rival Iran.After studying law at Baghdad University and doing a stint in the army, Talabani joined the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Mullah Mustafa Barzani, Massoud's father, and took to the hills in a first uprising against the then-Iraqi government in 1961 .Talabani joined a KDP splinter faction in 1964, and 11 years later established the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan after Barzani's forces, abandoned by their Iranian, U.S. and Israeli allies, were routed by Saddam's army.
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