LA BAULE, France – President Jacques Chirac (search) has been hospitalized in Paris after suffering from a blood vessel problem affecting his eyesight and was expected to remain there for about a week, the prime minister said Saturday.
Chirac, 72, was taken to Val-de-Grace Hospital (search) in Paris on Friday evening, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said in the Atlantic coastal resort of La Baule. He did not elaborate.
"Last night, he had a small vascular incident causing slight vision trouble that should fade over the next few days," Villepin said of Chirac. "He will stay in [the] hospital for a week."
The statement did not offer more specifics, but a blood vessel problem of this type could range from a torn vessel to a stroke. Strokes are often connected with vision problems. More than 80 percent of strokes are caused by blockage in an artery carrying blood to the brain.
Villepin said he discussed the government's agenda in coming days — in particular planned French aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina (search) in the United States — in a phone conversation with Chirac on Saturday.
Villepin, in La Baule for a meeting of Chirac's ruling conservative party, said he would visit the president upon returning to the capital later Saturday.
Chirac's schedule had included the Franco-German summit Tuesday with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and a lunch meeting with Prince Albert II of Monaco on Friday.
The presidential Elysee Palace said Chirac had discussed delaying his schedule with staffers and declined to comment beyond a hospital communique nearly identical to Villepin's statement.
Chirac has not been known to suffer from any major physical problems recently, and Elysee officials said they believed that he had not missed a day of work due to ill health since taking office in 1995. In his only other publicly known health problem, he was treated for a broken pelvis suffered in a 1979 car accident.
Chirac was a leader of international opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. France and the United States, longtime allies, have been working to patch up frayed ties over the war.
France said Friday that it would contribute 92,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from its stocks of refined oil products as part of a wider plan by the International Energy Agency to release 60 million barrels equivalent over two months to ease the impact of the hurricane on the market and consumers.
The Interior Ministry said the contribution was part of France's solidarity effort toward the American people," in the face of the "cataclysm."