Yeltsin Puts Gore on Hold

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MOSCOW: Boris Yeltsin canceled a Monday meeting with visiting Vice President Al Gore to begin an unannounced two-week vacation at a government health resort near Moscow. Gore said he has been told the meeting will be rescheduled for sometime Tuesday, but the eleventh-hour change of plans has thrown the spotlight once again on Yeltsin's health problems, which include heart trouble. A statement released by the president's office said the Yeltsin felt the period before his August 9 inauguration "was the most appropriate time for a vacation, with the goal of restoring his strength after a tense election campaign." As a candidate, Yeltsin danced with young people at a rock concert and pumped away on a giant swing with grass-roots supporters while fighting off Communist opponent Gennadi Zyuganov. But the President has not been seen in public since the July 3 runoff election, and has appeared in a handful of carefully-scripted television appearances. Gore would have been the first person outside of Yeltsin's inner circle to meet with him in the past few weeks. Gore, traveling with Defense Secretary William Perry, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, and Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary, has other meetings on his agenda. Gore and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin co-chair a joint commission on economic issues that is sceduled to begin its two-day session today. -- Scot Woods