Tallying the diamonds of diplomacy
Arab leaders gave jewelry to Condoleezza Rice. All such gifts to the administration went to the GSA.
WASHINGTON - President Bush's foreign policies may be unpopular in the Middle East, but Arab leaders showered his top diplomat with jewelry worth far more than a quarter of a million dollars last year.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice raked in at least $316,000 in gem-encrusted baubles from the kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia alone, making her one of the top recipients among U.S. officials of gifts from foreign heads of state and government and their aides in 2007.
In January, Jordan's King Abdullah II gave Rice an emerald and diamond necklace, ring, bracelet and earrings worth an estimated $147,000, according to the State Department's annual inventory of such items released yesterday.
The king and his wife, Queen Rania, also gave Rice a less expensive necklace and earrings along with a jewelry box valued at $4,630, the document shows.
Not to be outdone, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in July gave Rice a ruby and diamond necklace with matching earrings, bracelet and ring worth $165,000.
The inventory also includes a $170,000 flower-petal motif necklace the Saudi monarch gave to Rice in 2005, which the department says was not previously disclosed.
From the same Arab leaders, Bush received just over $100,000 in gifts in 2007, the list shows.
Other gifts include an $85,000 sapphire and diamond jewelry set and a $10,000 piece of artwork depicting a desert scene of bedouins, camels and a tent made of gold given to Laura Bush by Saudi King Abdullah.
Unfortunately for the recipients, federal law bars officials from accepting personal presents in almost all circumstances, and the gifts have been turned over to the General Services Administration.
The inventory, prepared by State Department's Office of Protocol, catalogues all gifts given to top administration officials. They range from the modest - a $6 assortment of nuts and dried fruit from the Dalai Lama to Laura Bush - to the extravagant - Rice's jewelry - and the odd - a $570 Brush Cutter with "comfort grip handles" from the Swedish prime minister to Bush, presumably for use at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
The prime minister of Singapore gave Bush $450 worth of fitness equipment, including a "uSurf Wave Action Exerciser" and an "iGallop Core and Abs Exerciser," according to the documents.
The wife of Japan's former prime minister Shinzo Abe appears to be an animal lover. Last year, she gave Laura Bush two red, white and blue hand-embroidered pillows with American flag designs and the names and images of first dogs Barney and Miss Beazley. She also gave the first lady a $700 porcelain Limoges box with the two pets painted on it.