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Weiner requests leave of absence

Representative Anthony Weiner has announced he is entering professional treatment at an undisclosed location and requested a leave of absence from the US Congress as he came under fierce pressure from fellow Democrats to resign in a sex texting scandal.

An aide for the embattled New York lawmaker made the disclosure in a statement shortly after several Democratic party leaders demanded he quit for exchanging messages and photos ranging from sexually suggestive to explicit with several women online.

"This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Representative Weiner, his family, his constituents and the House," Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said in a written statement calling for the 46-year-old married lawmaker to step down.

The House Democratic leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, said Mr Weiner "has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents and the recognition that he needs help. I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a member of Congress".

Aides said later that Ms Pelosi had been aware of Mr Weiner's plan to enter treatment when she issued her statement, and her call for a resignation had not changed because of it.

Mr Weiner's spokeswoman, Risa Heller, said in the statement that the congressman departed during the morning "to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person. In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well."

The statement did not say where he would receive treatment, or what type was involved. Others familiar with his plans said he had left New York by air.

Also joining in calls for Mr Weiner to quit was New York Democratic Representative Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a member of the party's leadership.

In an interview, Mr Israel said he had told Mr Weiner in a phone call during the day "that I was going to call on him to resign and he absorbed that. Obviously he had much more personal and pressing issues that he was addressing.

"He didn't give me any indication of whether he was going to resign or not," Mr Israel said.

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