WASHINGTON: Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton outpaced President Barack Obama last year in receiving lavish gifts from foreign leaders.
Clinton received gold jewellery worth half a million dollars from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The State Department said the gift included a necklace bracelet, ring and earrings. The white gold was adorned with teardrop rubies and diamonds.
Obama’s most expensive gift was a USD 16,500 gold-plated clock from Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the Saudi defense minister. Obama, a big sports fan, scored a red, white and blue basketball from and autographed by Chinese President President Xi Jinping. British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, gave Obama a customised Dunlop table tennis table with United States and United Kingdom decals and paddles worth USD 1,100.
The gifts were among a bounty of vases, watches, artwork and other items given to the Obama family and top US officials in 2012, according to the department’s Office of Protocol, which catalogues the gifts and publishes an annual listing. But don’t look for Clinton or Obama to pocket the gifts. Under law, most of them must go to the National Archives or General Services Administration, unless recipients reimburse the US Treasury for them.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny gave Obama a package of gifts worth USD 7,246.19 that included a certificate of Obama’s Irish heritage, two silver shamrock charm bracelets and a lamb’s wool scarf and blanket. Myanmar President Thein Sein offered gifts of jewelry for the first lady, Michelle Obama, and the Obama daughters, Malia and Sasha. The first lady was given a USD 4,200 pearl necklace with a gold and diamond clasp. The Obama daughters received two flower brooches of pearl, diamond and gold valued at USD 4,440.
Britain’s Samantha Cameron gave the first lady a cashmere scarf by J Saunders worth USD 480. There were gifts that could be consumed and those from display. Clinton got $ 560 worth of cognac from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama received a saber with a 34-inch blade and a silver filigree handle from Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.
Vice President Joe Biden got a silver knife and chopsticks with silver ends from Mongolia’s prime minister and a female bare-breasted bust from Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The gift list published in the Federal Register also included a present Obama received back in 2009. It was package of artwork worth USD 124,000 given to the president by Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s flamboyant former premier. Included was a large book of art, photographs and text by Marilena Ferrari along with a gold-painted box with bookmark and magnifying glass. (AP)