A complete list of the gifts received by US officials from foreign leaders last year, as well as a couple dozen from previous years, were disclosed by the State Department on Thursday.
The lavish gifts include diamond-and-ruby-encrusted jewels worth $500,000 received by Hillary Clinton from the Saudi Arabian king.
Hillary Clinton’s gifts from King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz – which included a necklace, bracelet, earrings and a ring – were by far the most expensive items among the hundreds of gifts given to U.S. officials in 2012.
The gift-giving continues a long-held tradition of international diplomacy, in which the wealthy and powerful show their appreciation for one another by exchanging artwork, jewelry, electronics and other presents.
Most of the items are required to be donated to the national archives, though a few may be kept depending on their value. The Hill newspaper first reported on the gifts.
In addition to her jewels from Saudi Arabia, Hillary Clinton also received wine from Algeria; a two-piece bronze sculpture of a red chili pepper from Singapore; a cuff bracelet, necklace and earrings from Kazakhstan; caviar and a wool carpet from Azerbaijan; Cognac from Russia; gold, sapphire and diamond jewelry worth $58,000 from Brunei; and a sword from Yemen.
Among President Obama’s gifts were: Christmas mugs, coffee, and steak knives from Brunei; a basketball autographed by Chinese President Xi Jinping; a ‘silver figure representing [an] oversized coffee bean’ from Colombia; a leather wallet and tote bag from France; a porcelain vase decorated with images of the White House and Kremlin from Russia; a chest of liquor and a Coca-Cola bottle decorated with beads from Mexico; and a 41-inch saber from Mongolia.
Gifts were also given to Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, former CIA Chief David Petraeus and Chief Justice John Roberts, among others.
Joe Biden’s gifts included a silver knife and chopsticks from Mongolia, a leather cigar box from Mexico, and a female bare-breasted bust from Liberia.
In every case, officials accepted the items because “non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and US”, according to a document provided by the State Department.
SAMPLING OF ITEMS RECEIVED BY US OFFICIALS:
President Barack Obama’s gifts included:
- Christmas mugs, coffee, and steak knives from Brunei
- Basketball autographed by Chinese President Xi Jinping
- “Silver figure representing [an] oversized coffee bean” from Colombia
- Leather wallet and tote bag from France
- Porcelain vase decorated with images of the White House and Kremlin from Russia
- Chest of liquor and a Coca-Cola bottle decorated with beads from Mexico
- 41-inch saber from Mongolia
Hillary Clinton’s gifts included:
- Wine from Algeria
- Two-piece bronze sculpture of a red chili pepper from Singapore
- Cuff bracelet, necklace and earrings from Kazakhstan
- Caviar and a wool carpet from Azerbaijan
- Cognac from Russia
- Gold, sapphire and diamond jewelry worth $58,000 from Brunei
- Sword from Yemen
Joe Biden’s gifts included:
- Silver knife and chopsticks from Mongolia
- Leather cigar box from Mexico
- A female bare-breasted bust from Liberia