Laura Bush ends four-day trip to Czech Republic

Laura Bush in RFE, Photo:CTK

After having visited France and Hungary, the U.S. First Lady, Laura Bush, completed her first official trip abroad without her husband by her side, with four-days in the Czech Republic. On Wednesday, she flew to Berlin to join her husband for an official trip to France, Russia, and Italy. Dita Asiedu looks at the highlights of Mrs Bush's visit:

Laura Bush in RFE, Photo:CTK
Yes, surrounded by security, Mrs Bush had a full programme. Her most important activity as a U.S. representative was her address to the Afghan people. As you know, the U.S. funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty with its headquarters in Prague has recently begun broadcasting to Afghanistan in the local Pashtu and Dari languages and Mrs Bush took the opportunity to speak to the Afghan people:

"I've spent much of the last week in two Central European countries - Hungary and the Czech Republic - which only gained their freedom from oppression a little more than a decade ago. Today they are free, vibrant nations. I'm confident that Afghanistan can build a future of peace and freedom and America will be your friend and partner in achieving it."

Mrs Bush expressed her concern about the role of women and education for children in Afghanistan during a round-table discussion with Czech NGO's who are operating humanitarian missions in the country:

"One thing I said to those NGOs that we met was that I hope they would let my office know in the United States if they needed help in any sort of way, if they just needed ideas or ways to raise money, because I know that the American people really want to help and they just don't know how? The NGO's can really help to let people in the Czech Republic know what they can do to help in Afghanistan and help in other places."

Mrs Bush also visited the Terezin concentration camp on Sunday to commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of the WWII prisoners in 1945. She was joined by the Czech and Slovak Prime Ministers, Milos Zeman, and Mikulas Dzurinda, as well as the U.S. ambassador to Prague Craig Stapleton and her daughter Jenna.

Laura Bush and Vaclav Havel, Photo:CTK
On Monday, after she had an early morning coffee with Speaker of Parliament, Vaclav Klaus during which they discussed Czech current affairs and Czech-U.S. relations, she visited a few tourist spots and then joined Czech President Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar Havlova at Prague Castle. Here, the Czech First Lady gave her U.S. counterpart a tour of the castle, exchanging experiences in charity work and what it's like being a president's wife. Mrs Bush also had dinner with the Havels discussing NATO and the alliance's latest decision to accept Russia as a partner. The U.S. First Lady said that President Havel shared the same view as her husband, U.S. President George W. Bush that Russia could be an ally to NATO but not necessarily a member. She also expressed interest in Mr Havel's past activities, calling them "symbolic of the opening of Central Europe after Communism."

But Mrs Bush's trip did not solely concentrate on diplomatic meetings and political activity. She was also the perfect tourist. After she arrived, she was first seen taking a relaxed walk in Prague's Stromovka park, with her daughter Jenna. She's been to see the Strahov Monastery, the Church of Our Lady Victorious, the Jewish Quarter, and toured the Nelahozeves castle, just North of Prague.