It's lights out for Bush

Jerusalem - Lights in the Old City of Jerusalem will be turned off before dawn this week so visiting US President George W. Bush can get a better view of the sun rising over its ancient walls.

Bush, who arrives in the Middle East on Wednesday for a visit lasting more than a week, had made a request to watch the sun rise over the Old City from his suite at the King David Hotel, a municipal spokesperson said on Tuesday.

To make the scene more dramatic, the authorities have decided to turn off the lights illuminating the limestone walls before dawn on Thursday and Friday, the spokesperson told reporters.

The gesture is just one of several that Bush's Israeli hosts will extend to the president of their main ally during his landmark three-day visit this week - the first by a sitting US president to Israel and the Palestinian territories in nine years.

Awaiting Bush at his King David suite - reportedly costing $2 600 a night - will be a white terry bathrobe embroidered with his name in gold, local media have reported.

Israeli television broadcast footage of the garment throughout the day on Tuesday.

And the main highway leading into Jerusalem from the west - already plagued by traffic problems - will be completely closed in one direction for an hour on Wednesday after Bush arrives to allow the unhindered passage of the convoy containing his hundreds-strong entourage.

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