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U.S. president receives Three Star Order

President Vaira Vike-Freiberga presented Latvia's highest honor, the Three Star Order, to the U.S. President George W. Bush at the Riga Castle today.

Before conferring the order on Bush, Vike-Freiberga stressed the U.S. president's contribution to Latvia's development and enhancing democracy in the entire world.

Vike-Freiberga acquainted Bush with the symbolic meaning of the Three Star Order, also referred to Latvia's struggle for freedom and independence. The order's three stars symbolize Latvia's three provinces — Vidzeme, Kurzeme and Latgale, Vike-Freiberga told Bush.

Accepting the order, Bush said he felt honored to visit Latvia, a beautiful and hospitable country.

Vike-Freiberga and Bush are holding talks now, both presidents will later place flowers at the Freedom Monument.

Later today, Bush will participate in a roundtable discussion with members of the Latvian community, meet with the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian presidents at a luncheon and deliver a speech in Riga Small Guild Hall.

President Bush will depart for the Netherlands from Riga this evening.