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Wednesday, 10 May, 2000, 23:12 GMT 00:12 UK
Giuliani to separate from wife
Rudoph Guiliani
An emotional Mr Giuliani makes the announcement
The Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, has announced that he and his wife are seeking a legal separation, raising new question marks over his bid for the US Senate.

Mr Giuliani's campaign had already been subject to concerns over his health, following his revelation that he had prostate cancer, and over his personal life, after he confirmed his close friendship with a New York nurse.

The BBC's Jane Hughes in New York says some Republicans may now question whether he is an appropriate candidate for a party which stands for family values.

The Senate campaign by his Democrat rival, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, is believed to have been strengthened by the upheaval in the Mayor's life.

Donna Hanover
Donna Hanover held a separate news conference
Mr Giuliani made the announcement of the separation plans to reporters at an emotional news conference in Manhattan, saying he and his wife, journalist and actress Donna Hanover, were already leading separate lives.

"It's been a very painful road. I'm very sad and I feel terrible.

"Over the course of some period of time, in many ways we've grown to live independent and separate lives, and we should probably strive towards formalising that."

Mr Giuliani said he expected his decision to elicit some sympathy and some anger.

"I have to try to do what I think is right for me, my family, for the people that are involved, and I think this is the right statement to make and the right direction to go."

Today's turn of events brings me great sadness - I had hoped that we could keep this marriage together

Donna Hanover
He added: "I'd like to get it resolved pretty soon."

The couple have been married for 16 years, but they have rarely appeared together in recent years. They have two children, a boy and girl aged 14 and 10.

A distressed Ms Hanover made a separate announcement outside the mayor's residence, Gracie Mansion.

"Today's turn of events brings me great sadness. I had hoped that we could keep this marriage together," she said.

Only last Saturday, Ms Hanover had told reporters that "this marriage and this man have been very precious to me," and pledged to support him in his fight against cancer.

Giuliani and Hanover
The couple in happier times, pictured in 1993
Mr Giuliani's friendship with nurse Judith Nathan has generated much media interest in New York since they were photographed last week leaving a restaurant together.

He gave more details of their relationship at Wednesday's news conference.

"Judith Nathan is a very, very fine person," he said.

"She's been a very good friend to me, before I had to deal with the decisions that I have to make about my illness and what to do about it, and I rely on her, and she helps me a great deal and I'm going to need her more now than maybe I did before."

His wife, he added, was "a wonderful woman" and "a wonderful mother".

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27 Apr 00 | Americas
Giuliani diagnosed with cancer
08 Apr 00 | Americas
Hillary edges ahead in polls
28 Mar 00 | Americas
Giuliani forced into climbdown
08 Jul 99 | Americas
Profile: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
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