August 31, 2013

Hillary Clinton outpaces Obama in foreign gifts

But under law, most gifts must go to the National Archives or the General Services Administration.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton outpaced President Obama last year in receiving lavish gifts from foreign leaders.

Hillary Rodham Clinton,  Erkki Tuomioja
click image to enlarge

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton receives a gift from Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja at the Government Banquet Hall in Helsinki in 2012.

2012 file photo/The Associated Press

Clinton received gold jewelry worth $500,000 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. Clinton also got gold, sapphire and diamond jewelry worth $58,000 from Brunei's queen.

Obama's most expensive gift was a $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 customized Dunlop table tennis table with United States and United Kingdom decals and paddles worth $1,100.

The gifts were among a bounty of vases, watches, artwork and other items given to the Obama family and top U.S. officials in 2012, according to the department's Office of Protocol, which catalogs the gifts and publishes an annual listing.

But don't look for Clinton or Obama to pocket the swag. Under law, most gifts must go to the National Archives or General Services Administration, unless recipients reimburse the U.S. Treasury for them.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny gave Obama a package of gifts worth $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 $4,200 pearl necklace with a gold and diamond clasp. The Obama daughters received two flower brooches of pearl, diamond and gold valued at $4,440.

Britain's Samantha Cameron gave the first lady a cashmere scarf by J. Saunders worth $480.

There were gifts that could be consumed and those for 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 $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.

The State Department said its gift listings sometimes run late due to processing.

 

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