Tags: Bush | Cheney | gifts

Bush, Rice, Cheney Rake in Pricey Gifts from World Leaders

Tuesday, 11 Dec 2007 10:16 AM

WASHINGTON -- Gift-minded world leaders have made sure that US President George W. Bush could listen to all of Mozart while smoking a cigar and reflecting on Gandhi's "Seven Social Sins," according to a US government list.

But both US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney received presents whose cost dwarfed Bush's priciest trinket, an 11,000-dollar watch, the US State Department reported December 7th.

An Indian lawmaker, Nirmal Deshpande, gave the US president perhaps the least expensive present of his time in office: The yellow linen scroll with Gandhi's warnings, with an estimated worth of seven dollars - or one per sin.

They are "politics without principle," "wealth without work," "pleasure without conscience," "knowledge without character," "commerce without morality," "science without humanity," and "worship without sacrifice."

At the other end of the spectrum, Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra gave Bush an 11,000-dollar Cartier Santos Dumont watch in April 2006. The Thai military toppled Thaksin's government in September 2006.

But oil-rich Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev trumped that, giving Cheney a Breguet watch estimated at 25,300 dollars, while Saudi King Abdullah gave Rice a white gold and diamond set - necklace, earrings, bracelet and ring - valued at 20,000, said the US State Department.

The Saudi king gave Cheney the most expensive present on the list, which the US State Department is required to make public under US law - a 55,000-dollar, 18-karat white gold, ruby and diamond jewelry set.

As is common practice, Bush did not keep most of the gifts - except for Gandhi's autobiography and a book about him, both from Nirmal Deshpande - but passed most along to the US National Archives or other US government offices.

Bush received athletic equipment from several leaders, including a leather horse saddle from Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and black leather Huszar riding boots from Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany.

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt gave Bush, an avid bicyclist, two gray and navy blue cycling jerseys and tights, embossed with "a patriotic stripe" and the president's name.

Not to be outdone, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who is Dutch, provided a royal blue biking shirt, while Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen presented Bush with a red and while cycling jersey.

Junichiro Koizumi, the former Japanese prime minister numbered among Bush's closest friends on the world scene, gave the president an electric-power assisted bicycle, as well as a collection of Elvis Presley works.

"Junichiro Koizumi Presents: My Favorite Elvis Songs" opens with "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" and closes with "Hawaiian Wedding Song." Bush took Koizumi to the late King of Rock and Roll's Graceland in June 2006.

In a more classical vein, Austrian President Heinz Fischer gave his US counterpart the "Mozart Complete Edition" - a massive set valued at 1,276 dollars.

Representations of the US first family were popular: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev gave Bush a handwoven rug featuring Bush, US First Lady Laura Bush, the US presidential seal, the US capitol, the New York City skyline, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, and his own presidential palace.

The chief of protocol of Vietnam's foreign ministry presented Bush with a portrait of the US president made with rubies and various gemstones, held in an ornate gold-leaf frame, according to the list.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya gave Bush 75 cigars and an engraved humidor. Binoculars were among German Chancellor Angela Merkel's gifts.

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