Bush administration received generous gifts during foreign visits: ReportJune 25th, 2009 - 2:04 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Jun 25 (ANI): A report submitted by the US State Department has revealed that the Bush administration received very generous gifts during their foreign visits.
When the administration decided to restore diplomatic relations with Libya, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a visit to Tripoli last year, the first time in more than 50 years, and Libyan strongman Muammar Qadhafi showered her with costly gifts, reports Politico.com.
According to the report submitted on June 24, Rice received a diamond ring, a locket with the Libyan leader’s photo in it, and other items amounting to 212,225 dollars.
Rice’s spokesman, Sean McCormack, got an 800-dollar Men’s RADO watch “with small likeness of Qadhafi’s face on watch face”.
But Qadhafi’s generosity was outdone by the Saudis, who lavished more than 750,000 dollars in gifts on Rice, President George W. Bush and other officials during their trips last year.
In January 2008, Saudi King Abdullah gave Rice a “gold, diamond and sapphire set with necklace, ring, bracelet and earrings”, along with a robe and scarf. The whole gift pack was worth 230,145 dollars said the State Department.
During the same January visit, the Saudis gave State Department Chief of Protocol Nancy Brinker 65,000 dollars in gifts, including an emerald and diamond bracelet.
Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East, David Welch, and the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ford Fraker, each got 45,000 dollars worth of watches and other items.
Top White House staffers, including Stephen Hadley, Josh Bolten, Ed Gillespie, Dana Perino, William McGurn and Elliott Abrams each got jewellery and robes pegged at about 15,000 dollars a set.
During a March visit to Saudi Arabia, Vice President Cheney’s daughter, Elizabeth, got diamond and ruby jewellery with an estimated value of 85,000 dollars, while her mom, Lynne Cheney, got a 65,000-dollar set.
In 2007, Rice received two gifts of jewellery from the Saudis, with a total value of more than 310,000 dollars.
In February 2008 King Abdullah of Jordan gave the U.S. Ambassador to Jordan, David Hale, “one Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo watch” valued by the State Department at 12,500 dollars.
Bush, who is an avid biker, received a black Mercedes mountain bike in 2008 from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa presented him with a “full carbon Black Gold XTR mountain bike”.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave the U.S. leader “a hydration system cycling backpack” and bib shorts marked with Bush’s name and Israeli flags.
By law, federal officials are required to turn such gifts over to the government, which either sells them or stores them at the National Archives.
A few items are retained for display at government offices or purchased by the recipient, but items such as food, liquor, cigars, were “handled pursuant to U.S. Secret Service policy”, which may be a diplomatic way of saying they were disposed of for security reasons.
The State Department revealed in the report to be published on June 25 in the Federal Register. (ANI)
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