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Laura Bush confesses love for Harry Potter to Russian schoolchildren

Wednesday, 01-Oct-2003 7:16AM PDT
Story from AFP
Copyright 2003 by Agence France-Presse (via ClariNet)

MOSCOW, Oct 1 (AFP) - US first lady Laura Bush revealed Wednesday that she was a major fan of children's fantasy books as she attended a Moscow book fair with Russian counterpart Lyudmila Putin.

"I read all five of the Harry Potter books," Bush said with a beaming smile before on audience of eager Russian elementary school students.

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Bush has used the children's book fair to promote literacy. She also lamented at a Kremlin round-table discussion Tuesday that kids back in the United States were hooked on television and never had enough time for books.

Bush and Putin were due to be joined Thursday by Cherie Blair, the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as the Russian capital turns into the host city of some of the most prominent women in the world.

Besides Bush, a former school teacher, and her fellow bookworm Putin, the talks were also attended by their counterparts from Armenia and Bulgaria as well as scientists and other specialists in the field.

Mrs. Putin has remained largely on the sidelines of the Russian political scene -- although she has recently become involved in efforts to defend the Russian language against Western influences.

The US first lady's tour of Europe -- which also took her to France on Monday -- is seen as a fence-mending mission following bitter diplomatic disagreements over the war in Iraq.

Her visit to Moscow comes four days after US President George W. Bush and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a back-slapping summit in Camp David during which the two men appeared to have buried the hatchet over the war.