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Conan going with Michelle Obama to Qatar to entertain troops

Television host Conan O'Brien visits the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 26, 2013. The White House announced that O'Brien will accompany Michelle Obama to Qatar to entertain troops in early November 2015.

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By MARIA PUENTE | USA Today (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 31, 2015

First lady Michelle Obama is off to Qatar and Jordan next week, heading straight for one of the world's most turbulent regions. And Conan O'Brien is going with her.

Wait, what?

Obama's office put out a press notice Thursday about the upcoming trip, Nov. 1-7, when she will deliver a speech at an education summit, visit U.S. troops, stop in at schools, and even tour Petra in Jordan, one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world (think Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).

Then, on Friday, her staff organized a routine pre-trip conference call with the media. But you might have missed the news if your phone dropped the call for a second.

Midway through, according to the White House transcript,, FLOTUS chief-of-staff Tina Tchen casually mentioned the redhead comic and late-night talk-show host. It came after a lot of talk about the purpose of the trip (to highlight Obama's Let Girls Learn campaign) and the military and diplomatic poohbahs she will be taking with her and meeting.

Oh, and by the way: "In addition, the First Lady will be bringing a special guest, Conan O’Brien, who will be performing for our troops there."

After that nothing, not even from the reporters on the call.

According to the Associated Press, O'Brien is going with Obama to al-Udeid air base near the capital of Doha to tell jokes for the U.S. troops there.

The vast air base operates as an overseas headquarters for U.S. Central Command, and hosts American bombers and support aircraft used in the air campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The base is home to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing of the U.S. Air Force and has more than 11,000 service members stationed there.

The first lady is no stranger to O'Brien (or any late-night host, actually): One of the last times they yucked it up was in 2013 when he was the entertainment at the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner, the glitzy feast of self-congratulation usually attended by President Obama and Mrs. O.

O'Brien will be the second ginger celebrity she's been seen with recently: On Wednesday, she hosted Prince Harry at an Army base in Virginia to help promote their joint efforts to support wounded warriors.

And O'Brien is no stranger to travel or to entertaining troops. In May 2003, he went to Kuwait and Bahrain on a USO tour. This year he has been on the road in Cuba, in Armenia and in San Diego for Comic-Con.

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