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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 18:48 GMT 19:48 UK
Singing Japan PM tours Graceland
Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi impersonates Elvis
The Japanese PM showed off his Elvis impression

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has visited the home of his musical hero, Elvis Presley, as a guest of US President George W Bush.

Mr Koizumi burst into song with a few bars of "Love Me Tender" in the Jungle Room of Graceland on a private tour led by the singer's ex-wife.

The tour is being widely seen as Mr Bush's thank-you to a loyal ally who is due to step down in September.

The visit follows talks that focused on N Korea and beef imports on Thursday.

Serenade

To the strains of Presley's greatest hits, the two leaders were served fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches - a favourite of Elvis - as Air Force One flew them to Memphis.

Prime Minister Koizumi's CD of Elvis classics (photo courtesy BMG Japan)

In-flight entertainment on the presidential plane included DVDs of the singer's films.

White House press secretary Tony Snow donned gold-rimmed plastic sunglasses for occasion.

Mr Bush and First Lady Laura Bush were greeted at Graceland by Presley's daughter Lisa Marie and her mother Priscilla, after passing the King's famous pink Cadillac which was parked specially in the driveway.

Then, amid the Hawaiian-style furniture and a waterfall feature in the room where Elvis used to relax, Mr Koizumi serenaded the US president and his wife.

"Love me tender," he sang, and then, draping his arm around Lisa Marie, moved on to "Hold me close, hold me tight" - the opening lines of "I want you, I need you, I love you".

'Much in common'

At a state dinner on Thursday to mark what has been dubbed the "sayonara summit" (sayonara means goodbye in Japanese), Mr Koizumi had quoted the same song in a toast to continued US-Japanese relations.

Bush and Koizumi on Air Force One, en-route to Memphis
The sound track during the flight was Presley's greatest hits

In his toast, Mr Bush hailed Mr Koizumi's similarities with the rock and roll icon.

"Like you, he had great hair," he said to laughter from the guests. "Like you, he was known to sing in public. And like you, he won admirers in countries far from home."

Mr Koizumi's lifelong devotion to Elvis is well known. He has sung Elvis songs to world leaders and done duets with celebrities including Tom Cruise.

Mutual thanks

The light-hearted end to Mr Koizumi's visit follows a day of talks on more serious issues in Washington on Thursday.

White House spokesman Tony Snow
The White House spokesman donned Elvis-style sunglasses

Both leaders warned North Korea on claims it is planning to test-fire a long-range missile thought to have Alaska within its range.

Mr Bush thanked Mr Koizumi for Japan's support in Iraq and Afghanistan and hailed the country's decision to restore beef imports from the US after fears over a cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Mr Koizumi said there had been no other world leader with whom he had shared the same "heart-to-heart" friendship and trust.




SEE ALSO
Bush and Koizumi talk beef and NK
29 Jun 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Koizumi in US for Sayonara summit
29 Jun 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Graceland visit for Elvis' biggest fan
28 Jun 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Graceland given 'landmark' status
27 Mar 06 |  Entertainment
Cruise croons with Japan's PM
28 Aug 03 |  Entertainment
Koizumi and the King
16 Aug 01 |  Asia-Pacific

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