Wife of US top diplomat John Kerry improving, still in hospital

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The wife of United States Secretary of State John Kerry was recovering in a hospital on Tuesday after suffering a health scare, with doctors ruling out that she had had a stroke or heart attack.

Mrs Teresa Heinz Kerry, 74, remains in fair condition at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she was admitted on Sunday after showing "seizure-like symptoms," Mr Kerry's personal spokesman Glen Johnson said.

Doctors were continuing tests, but she and her family were grateful "that physicians have ruled out a variety of possible triggers or other ailments, including heart attack, stroke, or a brain tumor", Mr Johnson said.

As his wife's condition was "stable and improving," Mr Kerry would "briefly" travel on Tuesday to Washington to open long-planned annual talks between the United States and China.

"Members of the family will remain at the hospital before the secretary's return to Boston," Mr Johnson added.

Mrs Kerry, a multilingual philanthropist born to Portuguese parents in colonial-era Mozambique, had fallen ill while the family were vacationing at their home on the upscale tourist resort of Nantucket Island, off Cape Cod.

Mr Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, had been celebrating the July 4 holiday weekend during his first long break since becoming secretary of state in February.

The family had been overwhelmed by the good wishes from friends, Senate and House colleagues, as well as messages and phone calls from foreign leaders, Mr Johnson said.

"The secretary, his wife, their children, grandchildren, and extended family want to say a profound 'thank you' to everyone who has reached out and offered their best wishes," he added in a statement.

He also said the family did not expect to make any further statements until Mrs Kerry was discharged.

Mrs Kerry, a former interpreter at the United Nations, and Mr Kerry have been married for 18 years. They have five children between them.

Mrs Kerry was previously married to Senator Henry John Heinz, the heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune, who was killed in a helicopter crash in 1991.

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

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