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President Bush chatted for nearly an hour Thursday with LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson about issues including U.S. foreign policy, Middle East peace, the economy and energy, according to White House press secretary Dana Perino.
The Mormon leader also mentioned his long-standing friendship with Bush's parents, Perino said.
The meeting at Monson's office in the LDS Church Administration Building in downtown Salt Lake City began around 8:30 a.m. At about 9:40 a.m., Bush's motorcade emerged from underground parking on North Temple and headed straight for the airport.
The courtesy call was Bush's first meeting with Monson and his two counselors, Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf, since they were installed in February after the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley.
Monson, who was first counselor to Hinckley in the governing First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was present during 2005 and 2006 meetings between Bush and Mormon leaders. In 2002, Monson joined Hinckley in greeting Bush before he attended the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games.
On Wednesday, Monson, Uchtdorf and Julie B. Beck, general president of the church's women's Relief Society, got a personal tour of Air Force One.
"He meets with [the First Presidency] regularly and thinks that they have a good role to play in America, in terms of spreading the word of love," Perino said Wednesday. "I don't think the president would ever pass up an opportunity to meet with the president of the Mormon church."