Ok, this isn't about technology, but it's Friday so here's a fun item from The Times newspaper about how an informal dinner hosted by the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, was ruined by a lady in a revealing red dress.
The lady was a violinist hired to entertain the guests. Prospects for diplomatic talks between the two countries are pretty dim if they can be upset by a dress. Actually, no one is certain why Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki walked out of the dinner before he was seated. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said it wasn't clear whether Mottaki was offended by the dress or the fact that he was seated directly opposite Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Oh, that manipulative Ahmed Aboul Gheit. Someone tell him to keep his day job and leave the matchmaking to eHarmony.com The Times has more on their strange encounter during the meetings.
But other evidence from the conference, and the Iraqi capital, suggested that the last 24 hours in America and Iran's severely frayed relationship have been anything but straightforward. Iraqi officials present at Ms Rice's brief conversation with Mr Mottaki over lunch yesterday recounted the following strange diplomatic exchange: “As-salama aleikum (peace be upon you),” Mr Mottaki is believed to have said. “Hello,” replied Ms Rice. “Your English is better than my Arabic." At which point the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, is said to have joined in, encouraging the two countries to talk: “We want to warm the atmosphere some.” To which Mr Mottaki replied: “In Russia, they eat ice cream in winter because it’s warmer than the weather," a somewhat obscure comment that Ms Rice is said to have agreed with.
And this bit gets us to a very important and pressing question, seriously. The U.S. secretary of State doesn't speak enough Arabic to respond politely to "Peace be upon you"??? How long has this war been on? Not to mention the fact that it gives an Ugly American impression similar to dorky tourists in tennis shoes refusing to speak French in Paris. I'm not going to attempt to get too far into the head of the Iranian foreign minister, but one might easily conclude that his remarks about Russian ice cream were a polite, if awkward, stab at raising a topic of particular interest to Rice (and that would be Russia, not ice cream.) Would it have been too much for her to do the same? Does she need a conversation coach?
--Catherine MacRae Hockmuth