WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (Reuters) - U.S. first lady Laura Bush will travel in the Middle East next week to promote one of her signature issues, awareness and treatment of breast cancer, as Washington tries to improve its image in the Arab world.
The White House said on Monday Mrs. Bush would be in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan from Oct. 20-26 and that she would meet Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and Jordan’s King Abdullah.
Details of the trip were released as President George W. Bush pressed ahead with plans for a Middle East conference near Washington next month to jump-start the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
U.S. officials hope Saudi Arabia, an important ally, and other key Arab states will attend the talks, but it remains unclear how many will.
Anti-U.S. sentiment runs deep in the region because of Washington’s perceived bias in favor of Israel and public opposition to the Iraq war.
Bush will meet top officials, medical and educational leaders and women’s groups and visit several cancer treatment and screening centers during her trip to the region, the White House said.