July 17, 1996 in Nation/World

Gore Says Yeltsin Seems In Good Health

Compiled From Wire Services

Pale, stiff and unsteady on his feet, President Boris N. Yeltsin met Tuesday with Vice President Al Gore, his first foreign visitor since he dropped from public view three weeks ago. Gore said the Russian leader “looked very good” and was “actively engaged” during 45 minutes of wide-ranging talks.

“He seems to be in good health,” Gore told reporters after the meeting at the Kremlin’s walled summer retreat in Barvikha, four miles west of Moscow. “He was relaxed, smiling.”

Yeltsin’s ability to govern has been thrown into question since the 65-year-old leader fell ill last month before his July 3 re-election with what aides called a cold. His public appearances had been limited to edited TV footage, and the abrupt postponement of his talks with Gore Monday only deepened the concerns about his health.

But accounts of the meeting Tuesday and a series of high-level Kremlin appointments indicate that Yeltsin, who was hospitalized twice with heart ailments last year, is fully in charge of shaping his second administration, even though it is unclear whether he is well enough to survive it. Despite Gore’s upbeat description, reporters allowed to watch the start of the meeting said Yeltsin appeared to have trouble walking and has lost considerable weight since the election campaign.

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