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President Bush, Japan's Koizumi Tour Graceland


President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi are in the southern state of Tennessee, where they toured the home of Rock and Roll legend Elvis Presley. The Japanese leader is a big fan of the musician, known as the King of Rock and Roll.

It was "Love Me Tender" at Graceland, as Prime Minister Koizumi sang a few bars of the Elvis classic, while touring the late musician's 14-acre estate.

Graceland is now a museum to all things Elvis, preserved much the way it was the day he died there in 1977. The president and prime minister had a personal tour conducted by Elvis' ex-wife, Priscilla, and their only daughter, Lisa Marie.

Standing in the thick shag rug of the mansion's so-called Jungle Room, President Bush said Americans are thrilled by the Japanese leader's visit, and it means a lot to the country that he is that interested in an American icon.

"Your visit here is an indication of how well known Elvis was around the world. A lot of people still sing Elvis Presley songs here in the States, and there are a lot of people who love Elvis Presley in Japan, including the prime minister," he said.

Prime Minister Koizumi has recorded his own album of Elvis classics. With press photographers snapping, he serenaded the president and First Lady with part of the 1961 ballad, "Can't Help Falling in Love."

"I thought you were going to do 'Blue Suede Shoes,'" Mr. Bush said.

President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi have become friends over the last five years. It's a relationship the president regularly uses to show how much things have changed between the United States and Japan since the end of the Second World War.

This was the prime minister's last official visit to America, as he will step down in September. As they prepared to leave Graceland, the Japanese leader said it is a dream come true. "To dream the impossible dream. My dream came true. Thank you very much," he said.

The Japanese leader's musical hero would no doubt have approved of their choice for lunch - Tennessee barbeque.