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Clinton cites exhaustion; cancels tsunami aid trip

MALE, Maldives -- Former President Clinton has canceled his trip to areas of the Maldives hit by last year's tsunami because of exhaustion, a UN official said yesterday.

Cherie Hart, spokeswoman for the UN Development Program and coordinator of the trip, said Clinton, who underwent a heart bypass in September, was not sick. In March, surgeons removed fluid and scar tissue from his chest cavity.

''He's plain pooped, and he wants to slow the schedule down," Hart said.

Clinton, recently appointed UN special envoy for tsunami recovery, will keep his appointments in the Maldives but will not tour areas devastated by December's giant wave, Hart said.

''The staff is exhausted, but he's doing fine," spokesman Jim Kennedy said of the former president, adding that Clinton would continue with four meetings and a media gathering in the Maldives today, and would go to Banda Aceh, Indonesia, tomorrow.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed Clinton in February to be the point man for tsunami reconstruction, but his March operation forced him to delay taking the job. Clinton said last month that he could undertake any activities, and doctors told him his stamina should return.

Clinton is in the midst of a visit to India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Indonesia.

He met for 45 minutes yesterday with the Maldives president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, before taking a speedboat to the resort of Kurumba, where Hart said he plans to meet business leaders and government officials.

The Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami killed more than 176,000 people in 11 countries. In the Maldives, the tsunami killed 82 people and affected a third of the country's 290,000 people.

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