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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Rice to visit north-west England
Condoleezza Rice and Jack Straw
Jack Straw visited Alabama in October 2005
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to be given a tour of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's Blackburn constituency, his office has confirmed.

Ms Rice will also visit Liverpool as part of a two-day trip to show off Britain's "thriving economy".

Mr Straw said he was "delighted" Ms Rice had accepted his invitation.

The foreign secretary had pledged to repay Ms Rice for the hospitality she showed him during his trip to her home town of Birmingham, Alabama, last year.

'Cultural' visit

Her visit, which begins on Friday, follows the pair's joint tour of Alabama last October.

Apart from making formal speeches about foreign policy, Mr Straw accompanied Ms Rice to a game of American football, a "family" dinner with members of the Rice family and a trip to church.

The foreign secretary is looking forward to showing her two great places, which reflect the thriving economy and cultural life of modern Britain
Foreign Office spokesman

During her trip to Blackburn, Ms Rice and Mr Straw will visit a school and a major industrial site, meet civic, community and religious leaders and speak at an even organised by Chatham House and BBC Radio 4's Today programme at Blackburn Rovers Football Club's ground.

In Liverpool they will go to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Liverpool Institute of performing Arts and the Maritime Museum.

A spokesman said: "The foreign secretary is delighted that Secretary Rice has accepted his invitation and is looking forward to showing her, and the world, two great places, which reflect the thriving economy and cultural life of modern Britain.

"He is immensely proud of Blackburn, which he has represented since 1979, and is keen that Liverpool should have this chance to show its transformation as it prepares to be European Capital of Culture for 2008."

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