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Last Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005, 18:26 GMT 19:26 UK
Chirac to miss UN world summit
Jacques and Bernadette Chirac emerge from the hospital
President Chirac left hospital with his wife at his side
French President Jacques Chirac has been advised by his doctors to avoid flying for six weeks, officials say.

The advice means the French leader will miss the UN general assembly in New York on 14-16 September. His place will be taken by PM Dominique de Villepin.

Mr Chirac left a military hospital in Paris on Friday, after a week's treatment for an eye problem related to a "vascular" incident.

Mr Chirac has also been told to "get as much rest as possible", officials say.

Accompanied by his wife Bernadette, the 72-year-old walked unaided as he left Val-de-Grace military hospital and told reporters he was "in good form."

"I am now going to go home and resume my activities. To hide nothing, I was starting to grow anxious to get out," he added.

Correspondents say the stay in hospital makes it less likely that Mr Chirac will seek re-election in 2007.

'Limited problem'

The "vascular" incident was described by doctors on Monday as "a small haematoma" - and appears most likely to have been a blood clot or collection of blood in a vessel near the president's retina.

Dominique de Villepin
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin stood in for Mr Chirac

Mr De Villepin said the president's eyesight disorder was not linked to "any other problem".

Mr Chirac has had a reputation for robust health throughout his political career and has suffered no major health problems.

The French Foreign Minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, said Mr Chirac would be able to resume his duties as before.

French newspapers have complained that bulletins about his health have been too vague, and appear to have been written by political rather than medical staff.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Paris says many French people have been suspicious because the late president Francois Mitterrand had lied for years about the true state of his health, concealing the fact that he was seriously ill with cancer.

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