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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Belgian minister collapses
Louis Michel on stretcher
Belgian officials say there is no cause for alarm
Belgium's Foreign Minister Louis Michel has collapsed at Nato's meeting in Iceland and been rushed to hospital for checks.

Mr Michel
Other ministers ran over
Mr Michel, aged 54, fell to the floor as ministers lined up for a group photograph.

He briefly tried to get up before collapsing again.

EU foreign affairs supremo Javier Solana and other ministers ran over to help him.

Mr Michel's personal spokesman, Jean-Philippe Rousseau, said the most likely cause was exhaustion, because the minister had been travelling a lot recently.

He felt terrible - he didn't even want to come

Belgian diplomat
"Everything looks fine. He's conscious. He's talking to the doctors," Mr Rousseau said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koen Vervaeke said Mr Michel had been suffering from a stomach complaint.

The minister himself complained to Belgian officials of feeling dizzy before keeling over.

"He felt terrible. He didn't even want to come," said said a Belgian diplomat, who asked not to be identified..

"He felt too hot in the meeting room and it was too cold outside for him," he said.

Travel diary

Mr Michel arrived at the Reykjavik meeting late on Monday from New York, where he had been attending the United Nations summit for children.

Mr Michel, minutes before he collapsed
Mr Michel had complained of dizziness
Prior to that he had been visiting South Africa and Rwanda.

Mr Michel is deputy to Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.

A keen smoker of cigars and pipes, and a gourmet, he has been variously described as "burly" and "overweight".

Mr Michel stirred controversy during Belgium's presidency of the EU last year, with strident criticism of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mr Verhofstadt had to Mr Berlusconi after Mr Michel gave the Italian leader "zero out of 10" for describing Western civilisation as superior to Islam.

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