Saturday, September 6, 2008

Let's hope Muammar Gaddafi doesn't put the wind up Condoleezza Rice

Con Coughlin

Friday, September 5, 2008

I hope Condoleezza Rice, the American Secretary of State, has her wits about her when she makes her historic visit to Libya to meet the country's decidedly eccentric dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, as part of the normalisation of relations between Washington and Libya.

Gaddafi may no longer be regarded as the "mad dog" of the Maghreb - as he was during the Reagan administration - but he still has a mighty strange way of handling foreign visitors.

I remember when, shortly after the Reagan had bombed Libya in 1986, Gaddafi insisted he would only be interviewed by female journalists, more than one of whom claimed that the Libyan leader - who has fathered, according to Libya's official figures, at least nine children - came over all amorous and proposed doing a lot more than talking about the state of Libya's military infrastructure while they were locked away in his tent

And then, when he agreed to be interviewed by male reporters again, he displayed the rather unnerving habit of breaking wind loudly - and for extended periods - in the middle of the interview. The BBC's John Simpson was one victim of the Libyan dictator's flatulence - apparently it's something to do with the bean stew which is a staple of the Libyan diet - and wrote a memorable piece for the Sunday Telegraph recounting the experience under the headline, "Wind of Change blows through the Libyan Desert".

Condi - you have been warned!

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