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US diplomat Kerry's wife rushed to hospital

08 July 2013, 13:41

New York - The wife of US Secretary of State John Kerry was hospitalised late on Sunday with an unknown illness after reportedly being rushed by ambulance for treatment in a "critical condition".

Late on Sunday afternoon Teresa Heinz Kerry "was taken by ambulance to Nantucket Cottage Hospital accompanied by her husband", Kerry's personal spokesperson Glen Johnson said in a statement, without specifying what she was suffering from.

Heinz Kerry, a multilingual philanthropist born to Portuguese parents in colonial-era Mozambique, arrived in a "critical but stable condition", the Boston Globe daily reported, quoting a Nantucket hospital spokesperson.

Johnson said Heinz Kerry was later transferred to "Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, again accompanied by the secretary", suggesting that she needed a more in-depth treatment than that available in the smaller facility.

"The family is grateful for the outpouring of support it has received and aware of the interest in her condition, but they ask for privacy at this time," Johnson added.

Kerry, the 2004 Democratic Party presidential candidate, had been celebrating the 4 July national holiday weekend with his family at their home on Nantucket Island, an upscale tourist hotspot off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on his first long break since he took over in February as the top US diplomat.

Punishing schedule

He and his wife, aged 74, have been married for 18 years. It is a second marriage for both of them. She has three sons and Kerry has two daughters.

Kerry, aged 69, has kept up a punishing schedule since succeeding Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and had been expected to return to the Middle East soon as he pursues a bid to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

He has already visited 27 countries spending some 68 days out of five months on the road, travelled around 216 764km and spent a total of 293 hours, or around 12 days, in his Air Force plane.

Kerry had headed straight for Massachusetts after returning home on 3 July from a 12-day tour to several Middle Eastern nations, India and Brunei.

He had come been criticised in the US domestic media for not attending in person a White House meeting called by President Barack Obama on the day that Egyptian leader Mohammed Morsi was toppled. But he listened to the deliberations by phone, and has been in regular contact with his Egyptian counterparts.

Kerry is due to host a two-day strategic US-China dialog in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday with senior Chinese leaders, but it was not known on Sunday whether he would still be able to attend.

Treated for breast cancer

Heinz Kerry has rarely been seen at Kerry's side during official functions at the State Department, although she was present for his swearing-in ceremony and accompanied him on one of his early trips travelling to Istanbul and London, before dropping off the rest of the voyage.

A former interpreter at the United Nations, she was married to senator Henry John Heinz, the heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune, who was killed in a helicopter crash in 1991. She inherited many of his trusts and is very wealthy.

A committed environmentalist like Kerry, they had first met at an Earth Day summit in 1990. They then met again two years later in Rio for an Earth Day event, after Heinz's death.

In 2009 Heinz Kerry revealed she had been treated for breast cancer.

Clinton's four-year tenure as secretary of state was also interrupted by illness when she suffered a blood clot near her brain in December after banging her head in a fall, forcing her to cancel a planned overseas trip.

She was absent from the State Department for several weeks, and when she returned was under doctor's orders not to fly for several more months. During her time in office, she flew more than a million kilometres and visited 112 countries.


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