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Prince Rainier Has Lung Surgery

February 2, 2000 GMT

MONTE CARLO, Monaco (AP) _ Doctors at the Heart and Lung Center in Monaco on Wednesday successfully removed a portion of Prince Rainier’s lung, according to a statement released by the palace.

It was the second time in less than two months that the 76-year-old prince of Monaco underwent surgery. On Dec. 16, Rainier had surgery to repair an aneurysm in his abdominal aorta.

The statement signed by Rainier’s doctors said Wednesday’s operation had been scheduled since December after they found a small growth during routine postoperative testing.

In 1994, Rainier, who has ruled this tiny seaside principality for 50 years, underwent coronary bypass surgery.

``(Today’s) operation, which involved the partial removal of the lung, has allowed us to examine a nodular growth,″ said Dr. Jean-Joseph Pastor, Rainier’s cardiologist, and Dr. Vincent Dor, a lung specialist. ``The operation went smoothly.″

The statement said further health bulletins would be forthcoming.

The Grimaldi family, which has ruled the tiny Riviera principality since 1297, is one of Europe’s oldest royal families.

Widowed when his wife, the former Grace Kelly, perished in a car crash, Rainier is widely credited with transforming Monaco into a dynamic economic and financial hub.

Prince Albert, Rainier’s heir, is said to be preparing to take over from his father. However, Rainier has given no hint that he is ready to step down.

Once a sleepy resort favored by European royalty, the principality, smaller than New York’s Central Park, is now a popular tax haven with celebrities, bankers and sports figures.