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Condoleezza Rice recounts awkward encounters with world leaders

November 01, 2011|By Kim Geiger | Washington Bureau
  • Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a student lecture hosted by Queens University of Charlotte, N.C.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a student lecture hosted… (Kristen Hines Baker / Queens…)

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is out with a new book today, a memoir that recounts her eight years in the administration of President George W. Bush.

“No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington” discusses Rice’s encounters with foreign leaders, the administration’s handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rice’s thoughts on her colleagues and her relationship with Bush.

Rice served as national security advisor during Bush's first term -- she was the first woman to hold the position -- and served as secretary of State in his second term.

Among the revelations contained in the 734-page book:

-- Rice discussed a creepy encounter with Col. Moammar Kadafi, who Rice says had an “eerie fascination with me personally.” The Libyan dictator referred to Rice as his “African princess” and often asked visitors why she wouldn’t visit him. When she finally did visit him in the fall of 2008, Kadafi insisted that she join him for dinner in his private kitchen, where he played a videotape for Rice.

“It was a quite innocent collection of photos of me with world leaders – President Bush, Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao, and so on – set to the music of a song called ‘Black Flower in the White House,’ written for me by a Libyan composer,” Rice wrote. “It was weird, but at least it wasn’t raunchy.”

-- Rice wrote that when she met then-Lebanese President Emile Lahoud in 2005, he "had been dressed in a mustard-colored suit that only highlighted his almost cartoonish artificial tan. After I shook his hand, I felt like I needed a shower."

-- When Rice visited Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah, he presented her with a gift. "I opened the package and realized that it was ... the black robe and veil Saudi women traditionally wear," Rice wrote. "'I had it made especially for you,' he said tenderly. 'Our women wear them.' Yes, as a sign of oppression, I thought. But it was so dear, and he meant well."

-- Rice described "a truly weird scene" when she met with Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir in the summer of 2005.

"Bashir spoke slowly, moving his head back and forth, from side to side," Rice wrote. "He looked as though he was on drugs."

But not all of Rice's interactions with foreign leaders were uncomfortable.

She wrote that she had a warm relationship with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose handwritten note to her on the eve of her testimony before the 9/11 Commission -- "Dear Condi, Good luck today. You will be brilliant, I know, and we will all be thinking of you and wishing you well" -- is displayed in the book's photo insert.

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