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Yeltsin Holds Meeting in Hospital

January 23, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ President Boris Yeltsin began going over his state-of-the-union speech Saturday at the Kremlin hospital where he has been recuperating from his latest ailment, a stomach ulcer, his spokesman said.

Yeltsin, who was in satisfactory condition, was briefed on several political and economic issues by his chief of staff, spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin said.

Nikolai Bordyuzha also discussed with Yeltsin the latest Russian diplomatic efforts to resolve troubles in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo and between the United Nations and Iraq, according to the Kremlin press service. The meeting was Yeltsin’s first official activity since he was hospitalized, the press service said.

Yeltsin, 67, was hospitalized Jan. 17 for the fifth time since his re-election in 1996. Among other things, his illness made it appear unlikely that he would be able to meet with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright when she visits Moscow next week.

The ITAR-Tass news agency, citing unidentified sources, said Yeltsin and Albright were more likely to speak by telephone during her visit.

Earlier in the week, aides brought Yeltsin a draft of the first part of his state-of-the-union speech, and he began going over it Saturday, Yakushkin said on Echo of Moscow radio.

He said the section of the speech concerns ``the results of the year 1998 and the socio-economic problems that are before Russia now.″

Yeltsin has said little thus far about Russia’s economic crisis, which worsened in August. He is expected to deliver the state-of-the-union address in late February or early March, Yakushkin said.

Doctors decided earlier this week that Yeltsin would not require surgery and said the medicinal treatment of his ulcer appeared to be working. But they say he will need two to three weeks in the hospital.

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