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May 27, 2003

Pop Diva Meets Israeli Leader Sharon

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Whitney Houston on Tuesday visited Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who took time out from preparations for a summit with his Palestinian counterpart and President Bush to meet the pop diva.

"It's home. It's a friendship I've never had with any other country," Houston, dressed in a long red robe with white embroidery, told Sharon.

Houston was in Israel with her husband, rhythm and blues singer Bobby Brown, to visit "friends and family" among the Black Hebrews, an African-American community that moved to Israel in 1969 and settled in the southern town of Dimona.

On Monday, Houston told reporters in Israel's southern resort of Eilat that she was on "spiritual retreat" during which she would visit family and friends in Dimona.