Pope John Paul II has received Croatia's Prime Minister Ivo Sanader at the Vatican in the pontiff's first private audience for a politician since he was rushed to the hospital with breathing problems three weeks ago.

The pope met privately for about 10 minutes with the Croatian leader, but did not speak during a subsequent photo session. Mr. Sanader later told reporters he found the pontiff well, but still showing the effects of his recent illness.

The pope has been slowly resuming his regular activities since his release from the hospital 12 days ago. Vatican officials say the 84-year-old pope will not take part in his weekly general audience Wednesday, but will limit himself to briefly addressing pilgrims from his apartment window overlooking Saint Peter's Square.

The pope was rushed to the hospital February 1 with respiratory problems caused by the flu.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.