Bush arrives in UAE on historic visit

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Abu Dhabi, Jan 13 : US President George W Bush arrived here today on a historic two-day official visit on the fifth leg of his broader West Asian tour seeking to push, among other things, peace between the Palestinians and Israel.

As he arrived in the UAE capital, marking the first visit by a US President to the oil-rich emirates which sit on one-tenth of world's oil reserves, Mr Bush was given a red carpet welcome and received by the President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Vice President, Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and top senior officials at the airport.

Soon after arriving at the Mushref Palace, the US President accompanied by Sheikh Khalifa ascended the dais of honour where the national anthems of the UAE and US were played while the artillery fired 21-gun salute.

Mr Bush inspected the guard of honour and headed to the Palace's main reception lounge where he shook hands with a number of Sheikhs, ministers and top officials.

For his part, Sheikh Khalifa shook hands with members of the delegation accompanying the US president, which included Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, White House Chief of Staff Joshua B Bolten and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Stephen Hadley.

The UAE president conferred the Zayed Order on his US counterpart as a gesture of honour and in recognition of the close UAE-US ties, the official news agency WAM said.

Later, Sheikh Khalifa hosted a luncheon in honour of Mr Bush and his accompanying delegation. A number of Sheikhs, ministers and high-ranking officials attended the banquet.

Mr Bush is to deliver an address at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi.

His visit comes after a tense showdown between US navy and Iranian army boats which just stopped short of trading fire in the Strait of Hormuz, a shipping lifeline that controls most of the oil exports from the Gulf.

UNI

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