RIYADH (AFP) – US First Lady Laura Bush arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday on the second leg of a Middle East tour aimed at promoting awareness of breast cancer, a leading cause of death among women.
Bush, who flew in aboard Air Force One from Dubai, was greeted at Riyadh air base by Prince Faisal bin Abdullah, son of the Saudi monarch and an honorary chairman of the Saudi cancer society.
The first lady was wearing a navy blue pantsuit, as female dignitaries visiting Saudi Arabia are exempted from wearing the long black robe, known as abaya, which is a must for other women in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
Bush was due to meet breast cancer survivors and attend the signing of a memorandum of understanding under which Saudi Arabia will formally join the US-Middle East Partnership for breast cancer awareness and research.
She was expected to fly to the Red Sea city of Jeddah later Tuesday for a meeting with King Abdullah, whose oil-rich country is a close US ally.
Bush’s four-nation tour which began in the United Arab Emirates includes Kuwait and Jordan. It also aims at restoring the US image in the Middle East battered by the US-led invasion of Iraq.