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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 July 2006, 02:38 GMT 03:38 UK
Bush takes time out to meet Idols
President Bush with American Idol finalists
President Bush entertained the contestants in the Oval Office
The stars of TV's American Idol have met US President George W Bush on the same day that he discussed the Middle East conflict with the UK's Tony Blair.

The reality show's most recent winner, Taylor Hicks, and runner-up Katharine McPhee were among the 10 contestants who went to the White House on Friday.

The group gave Mr Bush a harmonica with the show's name engraved on it.

Mr Bush was "aware" of the programme, White House officials told the Associated Press news agency.

But it was unclear how much he knew about the performers themselves.

No reporters were present at the meeting, with only still photographers permitted.

Election win

Mr Bush gave the visiting group a tour of the Oval Office and spoke to them briefly about his job.

He also encouraged them to remain true to their beliefs.

More than 63 million votes were cast in the final of the fifth American Idol series in May, when Hicks triumphed over McPhee.

George W Bush received almost 60 million votes during the US presidential election in 2004.

McPhee visited the White House after recovering from a recent bout of bronchitis and laryngitis, which forced her to miss several concerts.

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