Laura Bush 'bridge-building' in Europe

US First Lady Laura Bush, on a five-day "bridge-building" visit to France and Russia, was warmly greeted by President Jacques Chirac at the Elysee Palace today.

US First Lady Laura Bush, on a five-day "bridge-building" visit to France and Russia, was warmly greeted by President Jacques Chirac at the Elysee Palace today.

She had a 40 minute talk with Chirac who met Mrs Bush at her limousine with a kiss on the hand – and sent her off by repeating the gentlemanly flourish.

Inside, the pair exchanged pleasantries before television cameras in an ornate anteroom.

“The president has sent his most important emissary,” US ambassador Howard Leach told Chirac.

Mrs Bush was to deliver the keynote address today to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Unesco, in Paris

She was to say that US membership of Unesco, after a near 10 year absence from a group labelled corrupt and anti-Western, will be good for all, with America contributing a wealth of expertise.

Formed in 1945 to promote international exchanges, Unesco helps modernise education systems, establish standards on bioethics, and preserve cultural and natural treasures through its World Heritage List.

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