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Life's a (private) beach for Obamas

Beach-goers were cleared off the sands to allow US first lady Michelle Obama and her daughter a spot of private sunbathing on holiday in Spain on Friday.

Police used palm trees to mark off the boundaries of a 100-yard expanse for the American delegation as onlookers watched from either side.

As the first lady rested inside a canvas hut by the shore, her nine-year-old daughter Sasha splashed around in the sea and a security guard swam with her.

The Obamas arrived on Wednesday for a five-day stay in southern Spain that is being described as private, although Mrs. Obama is to meet King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia on Sunday at their summer residence on Mallorca.

On Thursday they toured Granada, taking in the Alhambra palace - the citadel that was the seat of Moorish rule in Spain - and the city's cathedral, and also watched a flamenco show in a hillside cave turned into a tavern.

Some Spanish media have covered the visit in extreme detail, reporting on the first lady's every move - from where she window-shops and what she buys to what flavours of ice cream she and her daughter had before going into the cathedral in Granada (for the record, chocolate for mother, melon and raspberry for her daughter.)

President Obama and the couple's elder daughter Malia stayed in the United States.

The Obamas have also been showered with gifts, including a typical Spanish fan, a traditional veil known as a mantilla, books on the cities they have visited, and a copious assortment of local food including cheese, olives, wine and even two legs of salt-cured Spanish ham.

It is questionable whether the ham will clear US customs because the producers lack permission to export to the United States.

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