By Giada Zampano

ROME -- Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni had an emergency surgical procedure to clear an obstructed coronary artery and is recovering in the hospital, his spokeswoman said.

Mr. Gentiloni, 62 years old, felt ill late Tuesday, after returning from an official visit to France.

His spokeswoman said the angioplasty operation went well and he was awake in intensive care in Rome's Gemelli hospital. She said it was unclear how long he would remain there, but might need to stay for at least another couple of days.

"The full success of the operation was confirmed by the excellent clinical progress made by the premier," the hospital said in a short medical bulletin on Wednesday afternoon.

The prime minister's spokeswoman added that Mr. Gentiloni was in touch with his staff via phone calls and texts, but declined to comment on whether his health would affect the government in the medium term.

For now, Mr. Gentiloni, who took office in December following Matteo Renzi's resignation, has canceled Thursday's visit to London, when he was due to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May. On Tuesday, the Italian premier met French President François Hollande in the first of a planned round of international visits.

Mr. Renzi resigned after his proposed constitutional overhauls were defeated in a referendum vote.

Mr. Gentiloni, who has pledged to work in strong continuity with Mr. Renzi's government, faces tough challenges ahead.

One of the premier's first moves has been the creation of a EUR20 billion ($21.1 billion) fund needed to shore up the country's troubled banks, setting the stage for the rescue of Italy's lender Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA.

Mr. Gentiloni has also pledged to take a strong stand in Europe on migration policy, a major issue in a country that remains the main entry point for seaborne migrants, and to continue Italy's push to loosen fiscal austerity rules imposed by the European Union.

Write to Giada Zampano at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 11, 2017 13:04 ET (18:04 GMT)

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