16 JANUARY 2008

Visiting Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah in his lavish desert retreat, US president George Bush was afforded true VIP treatment. The Middle eastern monarch received the American leader at the 2,000-acre estate where his 150 prize Arabian stallions are kept.

At the ranch just outside the country's capital Riyadh the two leaders sat in gilded high-back chairs sipping coffee served from an ornate golden urn.

As they held talks Mr Bush and his host watched a trainer lead out four of the magnificent horses. Among them was Alysheba, winner of the 1987 Kentucky Derby, who now lives in quiet retirement in the specialist equestrian facilities.

Their meeting finished with a meal, for which the American politician donned traditional robes presented to him by his Saudi hosts.

Meanwhile in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates, French premier Nicolas Sarkozy was given an equally warm reception to Abu Dhabi by the state's ruler Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Helping her proud father welcome the European leader was the sheikh's six-year-old daughter Princess Hassa, dressed for her big moment in an intricately embroidered red gown with gold ornaments in her hair.

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The US president was in Saudi Arabia for talks with King AbdullahPhoto: © AFPClick on photos for gallery
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Nicolas Sarkozy was also in the Middle East, meeting with Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The French president had a typically gallic greeting for the sheikh's six-year-old daughter HassaPhoto: © AFP
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