Clinton begins Middle East tour

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The Independent Online
CAIRO (Reuter) - President Bill Clinton began a frenetic tour of the Middle East early today with a visit minutes after he arrived in Cairo to the tomb of the assassinated Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat.

Mr Clinton's heavily guarded motorcade brought him directly to Sadat's tomb from Cairo International Airport, where the presidential Boeing 747, Air Force One, landed at 1am. The burial place is sited alongside a 10-lane highway near the reviewing stands where Muslim fanatics shot Sadat dead in 1981, two years after he had made peace with Israel.

Mr Clinton, joined by the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, laid a wreath at the tomb before going to Quebbeh Palace for a few hours' rest. His next scheduled engagement was a morning session of talks with Mr Mubarak and Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

The eerie, dark-of-night visit to Sadat's tomb was symbolic of the frantic pace of a trip that during today, Thursday and Friday will take Mr Clinton to six countries - Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Israel, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

'A six-day trip crammed into about three days,' one Clinton adviser said.