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. Clinton also got gold, sapphire and diamond jewellery worth $58,000 (Dh212,984) 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 defence 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 US and UK 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 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 swag. Under law, most gifts 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 $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 jewellery 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 from display.
Clinton got $560 worth of cognac from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama received a sabre 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.