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Pink pearls & sari for Laura

Hyderabad, Feb. 26: The city of pearls and Charminar is making sure George W. Bush and his wife Laura will not forget Hyderabad in a hurry.

The Andhra Pradesh government has lined up a bag full of goodwill gifts for the American President to take home. A one-foot-tall silver replica of the Charminar, weighing 2 kg, a pair of pearl bracelets, an embossed silver plate and some yards of fine tussar silk are being readied for Bush, scheduled to arrive on Friday.

For the First Lady, a Pochampally silk saree and a pearl necklace in pink and cream, weighing around 500 grams, are being gift-wrapped. Officials haven’t yet decided on a memento for her, though. A silver replica of Koti Women’s College ' it used be the home of a British officer ' and replicas of the Golconda Fort and the Nizam’s Falaknuma Palace are on the shortlist.

A source in the protocol department said the gifts would be wrapped in white embroidered lace made by artisans from Telengana.

If the goodbye will be grand, the welcome will be warm.

According to a spokesman of the Grand Kakatiya Sheraton Hotel, arrangements to receive the President and his entourage are almost complete. “We are eagerly waiting for D-day, and we do have some Indian delicacies and fruit juices ready for the visitors,” said a public relations officer of the hotel.

But not everybody is so gung-ho about the American guests. Human rights activists today joined the anti-Bush chorus of the Left and Muslim forums. Led by professor Harigopal and Ratnamala Jeevan Reddy, they staged a symposium on why the US President was unwelcome. They also launched a signature campaign in the city.

American authorities are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a safe trip for their President. US Marine helicopters are being test-flown in and around the city since yesterday. Senior security officers and those from the US embassy in Delhi have also held meetings with the police here.

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