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Last Updated: Monday, 18 December 2006, 18:13 GMT
Berlusconi has US heart surgery
Silvio Berlusconi at a political rally in December
Silvio Berlusconi has continued work since his heart scare
The former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, 70, has undergone heart surgery in the United States.

His party Forza Italia said the operation, carried out in Cleveland, Ohio, was necessary to correct Mr Berlusconi's irregular heart rhythm.

His heart problems emerged last month when he collapsed at a political rally.

Italian media suggested he had gone to the US to be fitted with a pacemaker. The surgeon confirmed that the surgery was successful, Forza Italia said.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi sent a message of goodwill to his rival.

"Dear Silvio, I am relieved to know that the operation that you have undergone in these hours in the United States has been successfully completed," it said, according to a text released by his office to Associated Press.

Mr Berlusconi, who is leader of the centre-right opposition and Italy's richest man, admitted last month that he should "slow down".

He made the comments after leaving hospital, where he spent three days after collapsing during a speech he was making to his party in Tuscany.

Doctors said they detected an irregular heartbeat.

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