Artwork, vases, jewelry, a basketball, books, clothing, booze, weaponry, rugs, and iPads are among the gifts government officials received from foreign dignitaries in 2012.
The annual list of gifts from foreign leaders to government officials in 2012 was released by the State Department
The most valuable gift was "white gold jewelry with teardrop rubies and diamonds containing a necklace, a bracelet, earrings and a ring" valued at $500,000 to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from Saudi King Abdullah.
She also received a "Mouawad Larme D'Amour 18k gold, sapphire, and diamond earrings, necklace, and bracelet," valued at $58,000 from the Queen of Brunei and a $1,750 silver tea set from the president of Algeria.
However, the value of most gifts was under $5,000.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama received dozens of foreign gifts. The president's gifts ranged from an autographed red, white, and blue basketball from Chinese President Xi Jinping, to a $16,500 gold-plated clock from the Saudi Arabian defense minister.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon sent Obama a collection including a Coca-Cola bottle decorated with beads, two shirts, silver cuff links, and five bottles of liquor in a wooden chest. Obama also received a custom table-tennis set from British Prime Minister David Cameron and several books from various leaders around the world.
The most popular gift bestowed upon first lady Michelle Obama was jewelry.
Lower level officials received dozens of watches and pens, and Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates each gave Apple iPads.
Gifts also included swords, daggers, sabers, three AK-47s, and one anti-tank gun. The guns were a gift from the Afghan National Army to a lieutenant colonel.
Article 1, Section 9, of the U.S. Constitution says that government employees are prohibited from accepting gifts of any kind from kings, princes, or foreign heads of state, which is why the gifts are transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration or the General Services Administration.
However, Congress has made a provision which allows government employees to keep gifts that are valued under $350.
According to the Wall Street Journal
, the government officials can use the gifts in an official capacity or purchase them to keep.
Government officials must state the reason why the gifts were not returned. Every gift came with the same reason: "Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. Government."
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