MOSCOW — Confirming rumors that former President Andrei A. Gromyko is seriously ill, a government spokesman said today that he had recently undergone surgery to correct a vascular problem and is hospitalized.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yuri Gremitskikh refused to disclose the exact nature of the illness or say where the 79-year-old statesman is being treated.
"Considering the character of the illness and the age of the patient, his condition is satisfactory," he said in response to a question at a regular news briefing.
Gromyko was Soviet foreign minister for 26 years before being appointed to the largely ceremonial post of president in July, 1985. He was Soviet ambassador to the United States in 1943 and in 1946 was appointed representative to the United Nations.
Gromyko resigned the presidency and his Politburo position in September. In April, Gromyko was retired as a member of the policy-making Central Committee.