5/21/2007 | NATO
CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) -- A relaxed U.S. President George W. Bush welcomed NATO's top diplomat to his ranch Sunday for talks to be dominated by the surging violence in Afghanistan. Bush and first lady Laura Bush greeted Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and his wife, Jeannine, in late afternoon sunshine after the guests arrived by helicopter. "A little slice of heaven," Bush said of his 1,600-acre (647-hectare) getaway from Washington. The president, in blue jeans and cowboy boats, then climbed in his extended-cab pickup truck and drove the couples down the road -- men in the front seat, women in the back seat. The invitation for an overnight stay at the ranch is considered a coup, a way for the White House to underscore its commitment to NATO and its leader, de Hoop Scheffer.