Japanese leader pays homage toThe King in Elvis dreamland

US President George Bush’s going-away present to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was some kind of “good luck charm”.

Amid the ceramic monkeys, floor-and-ceiling green shag carpet and animal-head armrests of Graceland’s Jungle Room, the delighted prime minister just couldn’t hold back the Elvis lines.

All it took was a simple invitation from Mr Bush.

“You’re a pretty good Elvis singer,” the president said, in an obvious prompt to his guest.

Mr Bush knew what was coming, having previously experienced Mr Koizumi’s tendency to burst into song when it comes to the late rock ‘n’ roll legend who is the Japanese leader’s undisputed musical hero.

Mr Koizumi quickly complied. “Love me tender,” he sang. Enter the special tour guides for the two leaders’ private tour of Graceland: Presley’s only child and heir, Lisa Marie, and her mother, Priscilla.

Draping his arm around Lisa Marie, he crooned some more: “Hold me close, hold me tight.”

The Bush-Koizumi tour through the Memphis manse wrapped up two days of consultations between the staunch allies.

Mr Koizumi’s visit saw military pomp, the tinkling of crystal at a black-tie dinner and two hours of discussions on Iraq, North Korea, US beef exports and other weighty matters in the Oval Office.

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