Bush to Sharon: Eat Less, Work Less and Exercise More

Pale but smiling PM leaves hospital after stroke, thanks Israelis for concern, says illness won't affect work.

United States President George W. Bush told Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to eat less, work less and exercise more in a phone call Tuesday following Sharon's release from a Jerusalem hospital after treatment for a mild stroke, a government statement said.

A pale but smiling Sharon was released from Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem on Tuesday morning, declaring that the incident would not have an impact on his work.

Bush called to wish him well, and advised him, "be careful about food, start exercising and cut back on work hours," the statement said.

The president also reportedly told Sharon that he needs him healthy, and said he hoped to see results of physical exercise and weight loss when the two meet in a couple of months.

Bush told Sharon that he views him as a true partner and courageous leader who displays strong leadership and a vision for peace. Bush said that to win the war on terror together, Sharon must stay out of the hospital.

Also Tuesday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called Sharon and advised him to rest, take care of his health and cut back on his work load, another statement from Sharon's office said.

The 77-year-old premier, shaking hands with his doctors, thanked hospital staff for their "dedicated treatment." He also thanked citizens, saying he "was touched by concern Israelis have shown over my health."

Sharon refused to answer questions over Benjamin Netanyahu's election as Likud chairman on Monday evening, but added, smiling, that "it is now time to return to work, move forward," referring to the name of his Kadima party, which he formed last month after bolting the Likud.

Shortly after his return to his Jerusalem residence, Sharon called Netanyahu to congratulate him on his victory in the Likud primaries. He also thanked his rival in the March elections for his get-well wishes.

Sharon is likely to chair the Sunday session of the cabinet, Kadima party faction chairman MK Roni Bar-On said before Sharon left the hospital just before noon on Tuesday.

"He will need to rest a number of days," Bar-On said. "I assume that on Sunday he will open the cabinet meeting."

Hadassah physicians decided to release Sharon after he underwent a new series of tests, including a CAT scan and MRI, to determine the effects of the stroke he suffered Sunday evening.

The stroke, termed a mild cerebral vascular event, "Will not leave behind any damage or any traces," said Dr. Tamir Ben-Hur, chief of the hospital's neurology department.

"There's an excellent chance it won't repeat itself," Ben-Hur said. "After a rest, he can return to full functioning.

"I want him to rest in the coming days, but he is used to hard work so you can't compare him to anyone else. I think after he rests he will be able to return to normal activity."

A senior aide to Sharon said that it would be several days before he returned to his gruelling work schedule.

"It might be a few days before he returns to his full work level ... his 20-hour day," Ilan Cohen said. "They say in the next few days he needs to get more rest and return to full capacity gradually."

Ben-Hur said the clot had been caused by a minor malfunction with the heart, which he said is not uncommon among otherwise healthy people.

Sharon's condition would be closely monitored after his release from hospital, his doctors said.

The prime minister was rushed to the medical center's trauma unit Sunday after suffering the stroke and briefly losing consciousness.

Doctors said Monday that Sharon had been conscious throughout the hospital stay. "There was no paralysis, and in medical terms he wasn't confused," Ben-Hur told a news conference. "He had some difficulty in his speech, which was caused by a small blood clot."

Full blood supply to the brain was restored, Ben-Hur said.

"There is no doubt that what he had last night was mild, very mild. Sharon's long-time personal physician Dr. Boleslav Goldman said early Monday. "He is sleeping well."

On Sunday night, several hours after Sharon was admitted to Hadassah, Goldman said the prime minister was "talking freely, moving and joking."

"Unequivocally, there was no permanent damage caused to him," Dr. Goldman said. He added that Sharon's functioning was in no way damaged. "He is talking to everyone now and asking about what's happening, what people are saying, and how they are taking the news."

Abbas, Mubarak wish Sharon wellSharon received get-well messages from Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Mubarak and U.S. envoy Elliott Abrams, who was speaking on behalf of the U.S. government, Sharon's aide Ra'anan Gissin said.

Officials in the White House and U.S. State Department, as well as EU envoy Javier Solana, also called to wish Sharon a speedy recovery.

On the streets of Gaza City, meanwhile, dozens of armed men from the Popular Resistance Committees, a small but fiercely militant group, fired guns in the air and handed out pastries to motorists celebrating the news that Sharon was ill.

The celebrations quieted soon after news emerged that the prime minister's life was not in danger, Israel Radio reported.

President Moshe Katsav was in constant touch Sunday evening with Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon and Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem director, Professor Shlomo Ben Yosef, who updated him on Sharon's condition.

"I wish Sharon a speedy recovery, from the bottom of my heart," Netanyahu said after meeting with Likud activists in Sderot.

Shas Chairman Eli Yishai and MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) spoke with Maimon and sent well wishes to the prime minister. Yishai relayed Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef's wishes for the prime minister's speedy recovery.

MK Moshe Feiglin said, "I wish Sharon health and many years to come, outside the realm of political leadership and influence."