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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 16:53 GMT
Chasing rumours with Cheney
Dick Cheney and President Mubarak
Mr Cheney and Mr Mubarak: 'Like brothers in arms'
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tom carver
By the BBC's Tom Carver in Egypt and Oman
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This is the third in a series of despatches from our correspondent, who accompanies US Vice President Dick Cheney on his Middle East tour.

The resort of Sharm el Sheikh comes alive at night.

The place seems full of Russians, drawn by the cheap room rates and temperatures 20 degrees warmer than most places in Russia at this time of year.

They walk through the fake souks in tight shorts, unaware of the presence of the Egyptian president and the US vice-president here.


Both have the same thick set, no nonsense meat-and-potoatoes air, like two ageing boxing managers.

Twenty years ago the place was a small encampment on the red sea. Today, it has 120 hotels.

Mr Mubarak and Mr Cheney hold their press conference in the local golf club.

They look like brothers in arms.

Both have the same thick set, no nonsense meat-and-potoatoes air, like two ageing boxing managers.

While we are waiting, an Egyptian television anchor tells me that Saddam Hussein has agreed to let in UN inspectors.

Afterwards, I check it with the smooth spokesman for President Mubarak who insists that we sit down and have a coffee and a cigarette before doing anything else.

It turns out the Egyptian anchor lady was a bit ahead of herself.

A shame. For a while I thought we might have a real story.

This trip has so far been rather news-lite, much to the frustration of the press corps.

On board Air Force One

The vice-president departs for Yemen, taking with him only the travelling press pool.

The rest of us fly directly to Oman.

Mr Cheney greets troups
Mr Cheney is on his way to Yemen
It is my first time on the 'big bird', Air Force One.

Up to now we have been travelling in the back-up plane, Air Force Two.

Because the vice-president is not onboard, we are allowed to have a quick tour of the presidential quarters - even the old lags of the White House press corps are exicted, but most of it is conference rooms, kitted out with standard 1990s business class furniture - fully reclining seats etc.

Sadly, no ejector 'pod', like Harrison Ford uses in the film Air Force One.

It is curious how the White House press corps regard the role of their president - with a mixture of deference and cynicism - as if they cannot quite decide whether the president should be treated as royalty or just another politician.


Follow Tom Carver's reports on the vice president's tour:

Click here for Day Two - Jordan and Egypt
Click here for Day One - London

See also:

14 Mar 02 | Middle East
Cheney discusses terror war in Yemen
13 Mar 02 | Middle East
Cheney prepares US troops for action
11 Mar 02 | Americas
Profile: Dick Cheney
11 Mar 02 | Americas
Cheney's 'thinking through' tour
12 Mar 02 | Middle East
Cheney warned over Iraq attack
13 Mar 02 | Middle East
On the road with Dick Cheney
Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


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