Merkel forced to cancel meetings after ski accident

Merkel forced to cancel meetings after ski accident
File photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on crutches, and France's Prime Minister Francois Fillon (L) attend the opening ceremony of the "Hannover Messe" industrial trade fair in Hanover April 3, 2011.

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel was injured in a fall while cross-country skiing in Switzerland, forcing her to stay off her feet and cancel meetings, her spokesman said Monday, just as her new government got down to business.

Taking reporters by surprise, Steffen Seibert said that Merkel, 59, had fractured her pelvis, requiring her to postpone two meetings with European leaders this week and also to cut back her schedule for the next three weeks.

However she would continue to work, mainly from home, after doctors advised that she remain lying down as much as possible, he said.

News of Merkel's fall comes as her compatriot, Formula One legend Michael Schumacher, remained in a coma in a stable but critical condition after a serious downhill skiing accident in the French Alps on December 29.

The chancellor injury "makes it necessary for her to lie down a lot for three weeks and/or use a walking aid," Seibert said.

"She, therefore during this time, will concentrate on a few appointments at the chancellery and in Berlin and otherwise do her work at home," he said, stressing that this did not mean she would be out of touch.

"It goes without saying that as chancellor, she is at work and both capable of acting as well as communicating fully," Seibert said.

Merkel will maintain a couple of appointments this week, including leading Wednesday's cabinet meeting, the first of 2014 for her new "grand coalition" government, expected to discuss, among other things, how to handle immigration from poor EU members Romania and Bulgaria.

But she has had to cancel a planned trip to Warsaw on Wednesday as well as receiving Luxembourg's new prime minister Thursday, Seibert said, adding that new dates would be found for the talks.

Merkel planned to speak Monday by phone with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel "to personally once again convey to them by phone the reasons for the cancellation," he said.

Merkel will not be returning to Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum in the plush ski resort of Davos later this month, but that was not due to her accident. The decision to forgo this year's annual meeting had been taken beforehand, Seibert said.

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