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Michelle Obama visits US air base in Qatar

The US first lady will make a keynote speech at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in Doha to promote education for girls
US First Lady Michelle Obama arrives in Doha (AFP)

DOHA, Qatar - First Lady Michelle Obama visited the largest US air force base outside the United States on Tuesday on the first full day of a Middle East tour.

"This isn't an easy post; you guys are doing the tough work," she told the assembled servicemen and women at Al-Udeid base, the forward headquarters for the US Central Command outside the Qatari capital.

Obama is in Qatar as part of a seven-day regional tour during which she is expected to focus on the issue of "cultural beliefs" obstructing girls' education. 

She is set to make a keynote speech at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in Doha on Wednesday, as part of her well-publicised efforts to promote girls' education globally.

The Gulf Times also reported that the First Lady met with Sheikha Moza, wife of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, former Emir of the State of Qatar.

Sheikha Moza and the US first lady discussed ways to help more children - particularly adolescent girls - in communities across the globe make that critical transition from primary to secondary education.

They also explored potential areas of collaboration between the Education Above All foundation, established by Sheikha Moza in 2012, and the first lady’s initiative Let Girls Learn.

In an email ahead of her trip, Obama wrote that 62 million girls across the globe are not going to school at all, urging support for the "Let Girls Learn" initiative that she launched with President Barack Obama earlier this year.

Obama was accompanied by late-night talk show host Conan O' Brien as part of the morale-boosting visit to troops.

O'Brien, whose "Conan" programme airs on TBS cable television, put on a show for the troops, part of which will be broadcast later this year.

Al-Udeid, home to around 10,000 military personnel, is used as a hub by the US military for its air strikes against the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria and Iraq.

Earlier Tuesday, Obama met Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

She is set to travel on to Jordan, where she is to visit a girls' school in Amman built with US aid funds.