Mrs Brown joins New York's first wives club

A reflecting pool stocked with Japanese carp and a floating Buddha three times the height of her husband awaited the Prime Minister's wife, Sarah Brown, as she jetted into Manhattan last night just in time to co-host what may be the most glamorous power-women pow-wow the city has ever seen.

Mrs Brown was due at Tao, a restaurant on 58th Street that promises its always well-heeled patrons a "sensual trip through the cuisine of Asia". Hence the Buddha.

Mrs Brown is hosting the dinner with the likes of the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, Queen Rania of Jordan and Wendi Murdoch, wife of the media super-mogul Rupert Murdoch. The spouses of heads of state in town for the UN General Assembly were also joining them. Tao, indeed, might as well have been renamed, for one night, as the First Wives Club.

The event's serious purpose was to raise awareness for the White Ribbon Alliance and Safe Motherhood, the charity that is committed to promoting maternal health and reducing infant mortality, with which Mrs Brown has long been involved.

Nor is it an accident that the dinner was in New York. It is at the UN headquarters, a few blocks from Tao, that heads of government will restate their commitment this morning to the UN's Millennium Development Goals, including improving medical care for women in child birth in the developing world. Mrs Brown is also expected to make a presentation on maternal health care at the UN headquarters this morning.

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