Movie star Richard Gere is following in the footsteps of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown by heading off to the Middle East on a top secret mission.

The 53-year-old Buddhist held a brief meeting with Palestinian culture minister ZYAD ABU AMR on Tuesday (03JUN03), but is refusing to reveal the reason for his trip.

Meanwhile, Star Wars actress Natalie Portman is set to become the next star to head for the Middle East - she wants to buy a home in Israel after graduating from HARVARD UNIVERSITY yesterday (05JUN03).

She says, "I've been to Israel four times this year. My dad's side of the family is there. It's an amazing place."

06/06/2003 09:13