Gift Exchange

Gift Exchange 150 150

What type of gifts do Secretaries of State receive?

Secretaries of State receive wide variety gifts from many foreign officials and private citizens around the world. Gift giving is an age-old diplomatic tradition and is a common ceremonial aspect of diplomatic visits. Oftentimes, the gift reflects the tastes and personality of the giver. The gift may also reflect the culture and natural resources of the giver’s country of origin. There are laws setting limits on the gifts that government officials are allowed to personally keep. The Diplomacy Center has a selection of gifts to Secretaries of State in its collection. A few examples include:

 

Personalized tea set:

In the late 1990s, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright played a key role in managing the U.S. response, through NATO, to the hostilities that broke out in the Kosovo/Serbia region.  One of the tools she utilized was what she called “conference call diplomacy” where she participated in a daily conference call with her foreign minister counterparts to share information and plan strategy during this war.  The core participants were Foreign Ministers Robin Cook (UK), Hubert Vedrine (France), Joschka Fischer (Germany), and Lamberto Dini (Italy).  Additionally, regular communications included Foreign Ministers Igor Ivanov (Russia) and Lloyd Axworthy (Canada).  Their constant communication not only resulted in a strong NATO response to the tragedy unfolding in the region, but also a strong friendship based on trust and a common understanding of the partnership.

 

These foreign ministers gathered at a dinner in Paris in January 2001 to honor Secretary Albright as she finished her tenure as Secretary of State.  Igor Ivanov presented Secretary Albright with a spectacular blue and white Russian porcelain tea set.  The 7 cups in the set feature the images of the faces of Secretary Albright and these six foreign minister counterparts [Igor Ivanov (Russia), Robin Cook (UK), Hubert Vedrine (France), Joschka Fischer (Germany), Lloyd Axworthy (Canada), and Lamberto Dini (Italy)].  The set’s round tray is inscribed “Madeleine and Her Dream Team” in gold lettering.

 

Vodka bottle:

This bottle of vodka in the shape of an AK-47 assault rifle was a lighthearted gift from Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to Secretary Colin Powell on the occasion of his 65th birthday in 2002. Also known as a Kalashnikov rifle, it was originally designed in the 1940’s for the Soviet military. Colin Powell has recounted on a few occasions, with some humor, that he was dismayed when Protocol officials deemed this gift to be “over value” and he was not allowed to consume its contents.

 

Qadhafi gifts:

This locket and diamond ring were gifts to Secretary Condoleezza Rice from Muammar Qadhafi in 2008. She was the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Libya in over 50 years and was the most senior U.S. official to ever meet with Colonel Qadhafi. The locket has Qadhafi’s image engraved on the inside. It was well known that he had a “crush” on Secretary Rice. He lavished her with praise during her visit. About the historic visit, Secretary Rice said: “This demonstrates that the United States does not have permanent enemies. It demonstrates that if countries are prepared to make strategic changes in direction, the United States is prepared to respond.”