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Bush Arrives in Saudi Arabia After Warning Iran


President Bush is in Saudi Arabia for talks with King Abdullah. VOA White House correspondent Paula Wolfson reports Mr. Bush is seeking support from the Saudis for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and his tough stance on Iran.

With a fanfare and a military honor guard, Saudi Arabia welcomed the president of the United States.

King Abdullah was there to greet President Bush when Air Force One touched down at the Riyadh airport. The two made no public comments, but will have a great deal to say to each other in private during the two-day visit.

President Bush is expected to brief the King on his talks last week with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Mr. Bush has also made clear he wants to talk about the Iranian threat to stability, and press the need for more freedom in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia is a key U.S. ally and a power in the region. And it was no coincidence that as the president landed in Riyadh, the Bush administration formally notified the U.S. Congress of its intent to carrying out the first part of a $20 billion arms sale to the Saudi government.

The sale is part of an effort by the White House to bolster the defenses of its Sunni allies in the Middle East who have concerns that Shiite Iran is seeking to become a major power in the region

In a speech Sunday in Abu Dhabi, Mr. Bush held Iran up as a threat to stability and progress, and urged others to join him in pressuring Tehran.

The president also took time in the United Arab Emirates to try to build a rapport with local leaders - dining in the desert, and visiting the ancestral home of the ruler of Dubai.

A group of young girls in bright gowns and with hennaed hands welcomed the president to the restored house made, according to Gulf tradition, of coral covered in lime and plaster.

Mr. Bush also had lunch with students at the Dubai School of Government, and attended a roundtable with young Arab leaders from across the region.

"I will answer your questions," he said. "And I also want you to understand something about America: that we respect you, we respect your religion and we want to work together for the sake of freedom and peace."

The session with young leaders was held in one of the skyscrapers that fills the landscape of Dubai - one of the commercial centers of the Middle East. But little commerce was conducted Monday when the president came to visit as the government had declared a national holiday, shutting down main roads and bridges.

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