Obama, entourage showered with Saudi gifts

January 19, 2011 12:00 am

, WASHINGTON, Jan 19 – In his first year as US president, Barack Obama, his family and administration members were showered with more than 300,000 dollars in gifts from Saudi Arabia\’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

The Federal Register reported Tuesday that King Abdullah gave some 34,500 dollars worth of presents to Obama, some 146,200 dollars worth to First Lady Michelle Obama and 7,275 dollars worth to their children Malia and Sasha.

The monarch offered a total of 108,245 dollars worth of gifts to White House staff, presents valued at 23,400 dollars to a senior US diplomatic interpreter and gifts estimated at 12,000 dollars to the US charge d\’affaires in Riyadh.

Among the gifts Obama received from Abdullah were a "large desert scene on a green veined marble base featuring figurines of gold palm trees and camels" and a large brass and glass clock by Jaeger-LeCoultre, according to the register.

The Saudi king gave the First Lady a ruby and diamond jewelry set worth 132,000 dollars as well as a pearl necklace with a value of 14,200 dollars, according to the register.

Their children also received jewelry worth thousands of dollars in addition to books and DVDs.

Another generous foreign dignitary was Ernestina Naadu Mills, Ghana\’s first lady, who gave Michelle Obama a Backes and Strauss "Black Star of Ghana" watch, "crafted in 18 karat gold with diamonds and leather," the register said.

It was valued at 48,000 dollars.

Chinese President Hu Jintao gave Obama "a framed and matted fine silk embroidery depicting a portrait study of the First Family" that was valued at 20,000 dollars, according to the register.

Miyuki Hatoyama, wife of then prime minister Yukio Hatoyama of Japan, gave Michelle Obama a pearl necklace valued at 9,700 dollars.

Obama got a bronze statue of a girl releasing a flock of doves valued at 8,000 dollars from Israeli President Shimon Peres.

All the presents go to the National Archives as US law bars any US government official from receiving a present from a foreign government.

Obama and others accepted the gifts because "non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and US government," according to the register.


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