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Dutch queen visits Israel

JERUSALEM, March 27 -- Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus of the Netherlands arrived in Israel Monday for the first state visit ever by a Dutch monarch. The 57-year-old queen, who made a trip to Jordan last month and hailed King Hussein's peace treaty with Israel, was formally welcomed by President Ezer Weizman at his Jerusalem residence. Addressing Beatrix at a luncheon, Weizman said he hopes 'we can share opinions and ideas about the future of the Middle East.' During her stay, the queen is scheduled to address the Knesset, Israel's parliament, meet with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and tour the north of the country. As is traditional for foreign visitors, she will also tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. The Netherlands lost a high percentage of its Jewish population under the German occupation during World War II. One of the most poignant pieces of literature from the Holocaust was 'The Diary of Anne Frank,' in which a Dutch Jewish teenager recorded her observations while hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam. Her family was captured and she was killed at the Auschwitz death camp. Beatrix, then a young girl, spend the war years abroad in exile with the royal family. The Dutch queen was also scheduled to attend a dedication ceremony of the Holland Garden, a floral gift from the people of the Dutch city of Maastricht to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Rabin and his wife Leah were to host a lunch Tuesday in honor of the queen and prince before her address to the Knesset.

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On the last day of the royal visit, the queen plans for the first time to lay eyes on the Beatrix Forest, one of three forests named after Dutch queens. They were officially inaugurated in 1989 by the queen mother Juliana. 'The queen will plant a tree in her forest followed by President Weizman and his wife,' Ina Greenwald, a spokesman for the Jewish National Fund, said. Beatrix, who was crowned 15 years ago, toured Israel in 1975 on a private visit with her husband when she was still a princess. (Written by Emma Blydenstein, edited by Jonathan Ferziger)

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