|Your account||Today's news index||Weather||Traffic||Movies||Restaurants||Today's events|
Thursday, August 05, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Abdullah: the prince who keeps on giving
By Shashank Bengali
The State Department's annual tally of gifts to administration officials shows Abdullah gave them $127,600 in jewelry and other presents, including diamond-and-sapphire jewelry valued at $95,500 for first lady Laura Bush.
The Saudi royal family's gifts dwarfed those of other world leaders, according to the tally, and easily eclipsed Abdullah's $55,020 in gifts in 2002. Abdullah has been Saudi Arabia's de-facto ruler since 1996 after a stroke sidelined King Fahd.
All of Abdullah's gifts, and most others, sit in the National Archives. By law, federal employees must report all gifts received from foreign governments. The president and vice president and their families can't keep gifts worth more than $285, which become federal property. While in office, however, they can take the items out on indefinite loan from the Archives.
According to the State Department's records, Abdullah also gave the Bush family two sets of diamond and white-gold jewelry by the exclusive Italian jeweler Bulgari and an $8,500 mantel clock "elaborately detailed in silver and gold vermeil."
Abdullah's gifts also included ornamental daggers with ivory handles, worth $1,500, for chief of staff Andrew Card and national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice; a miniature silver sword for Secretary of State Colin Powell, worth $1,500; and a small golden statue of a horse for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, worth $700.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave Bush the second-largest single gift: a book of original watercolor portraits of the 43 U.S. presidents, bound in red velvet studded with precious gems. It was valued at $45,000.
French President Jacques Chirac, an outspoken critic of the Iraq war, nonetheless gave Bush $1,900 in gifts, including a set of Christian Dior cologne, after-shave lotion and soap ($133).
The exchanging of gifts large and small is a long tradition among world leaders, not a way to curry favor, White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said.
President Clinton caused some controversy in 2001 on leaving the White House when it was revealed that he was keeping $190,000 in gifts received while in office. He eventually paid for $86,000 worth of the gifts.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
Home delivery | Contact us | Search archive | Site map | Low-graphic
NWclassifieds | NWsource | Advertising info | The Seattle Times Company
Back to top