Honecker Returns to Work After Surgery

From Reuters

East German leader Erich Honecker returned to work Monday after six weeks' absence due to illness, his physical strength diminished and his political power under unprecedented scrutiny.

The official ADN news agency said the 77-year-old Communist Party chief and head of state received credentials from the new Zimbabwean and Turkish ambassadors at his Council of State headquarters in central East Berlin.

East German television showed Honecker greeting the ambassadors. He looked thinner and walked stiffly but smiled and appeared attentive as he spoke with the envoys.

Honecker underwent gall bladder surgery Aug. 18, four days after his only public appearance since early July, when he became ill at a Warsaw Pact summit in the Romanian capital of Bucharest.

There was no official word on the state of his health now.

Honecker has ruled East Germany unchallenged since he took over from Walter Ulbricht in 1971.

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