Robert De Niro thrilled the Dominican Republic's president, LEONEL FERNANDEZ, on Friday (06JAN06) when he agreed to a private meeting with the South American leader.

The movie icon is shooting scenes for his new movie THE GOOD SHEPHERD in the presidential palace, and chose to show his gratitude by meeting Fernandez.

Several of the country's historic districts will be used for scenes that are supposed to take place in Africa, and parts of Santo Domingo will double up as Cuban capital Havana.

The film, which recounts the history of the CIA, is being directed by De Niro and stars Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie.

President Fernandez has assigned members of the Dominican army to make sure movie locations are off limits to paparazzi and nosy locals.