Libya's Qaddafi Gave Condi Rice $212,000 In Gifts, Including A Diamond Ring

Libya's Qaddafi Gave Condi Rice $212,000 In Gifts, Including A Diamond Ring

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In its final months in office, the Bush administration made out pretty well in odd and exotic gifts from foreign leaders - including diamond jewelery, a taxidermied lion, and Israeli bike shorts.

One of the most generous gift-givers was Libya's Moamar Qaddafi, who seemed particularly grateful for former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Tripoli last year, giving her gifts with a total value of $212,225, including a diamond ring and a locket with his own picture inside, according to a newly-released State Department report.

The gifts sometimes show familiarity with the interests of the receiver. President George W. Bush, for example, a known biker, received mountain bikes from two leaders (Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Janez Jansa of Slovenia) while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave Bush the aforementioned shorts, decorated with Bush's name and Israeli flags.

Often, however, the gifts were symbolic, if opulent, of the donor nation. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, of Thailand gave the President a series of books, including the title, "Glorious Celebrations of the Reign: Celebrations of the 60th Anniversary of His Majesty the King's Accession to the Throne." The lion came from Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.

There are strict rules about the acceptance of gifts by public officials but when it comes to foreign leaders, diplomatic concerns take priority. For each of the gifts, the reasons cited for the acceptance of the gift was listed as "non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. Government." By law, officials are required to turn such gifts over to the U.S. government, even the brown leather Hermes saddle given to President Bush by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

You can read the entire report here:

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