Muammar Gaddafi had a “slightly eerie obsession” with Condoleezza Rice, describing her as his “African Princess,” the former US Secretary of State said in an excerpt from her memoirs published on Thursday.
The late Libyan leader met Ms Rice in the oil-rich North African country in September 2008, a historic meeting that signalled the once pariah state’s return to the diplomatic table after decades of isolation. Ms Rice, unlike ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, declined to meet Col Gaddafi in his infamous tent, opting instead to hold talks in his residence.
“Obviously, the first visit by a US Secretary of State since 1953 would be a major milestone on the country’s path to international acceptability,” wrote Ms Rice in her book, No Higher Honour, published online by The Daily Beast. “But Col Gaddafi also had a slightly eerie fascination with me personally, asking visitors why his ‘African princess,’ wouldn’t visit him.”
Ms Rice, who served under President George W. Bush, said she had been warned ahead of the meeting to ignore the Libyan leader’s “crazy” behaviour as he would eventually “get back on track”. But her suspicions were soon confirmed.
“He suddenly stopped speaking and began rolling his head back and forth. “Tell President Bush to stop talking about a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine!” he barked. “It should be one state! Israeltine!’” Ms Rice recalled. “Perhaps he didn’t like what I said next. In a sudden fit, he fired two translators in the room. ‘Okay.’ I thought, ‘this is Gaddafi’.”
Ms Rice’s meeting with Col Gaddafi took place in Bab al Azizia, a Tripoli residence which was hit in US bombing raids ordered by President Reagan in 1986. It was there that the Libyan leader insisted Ms Rice join him for dinner in his private kitchen, where he later presented her with a collection of photos of the US diplomat’s meetings with world leaders – set to the music of a song called Black Flower in the White House, written for Ms Rice by a Libyan composer.
“It was weird, but at least it wasn’t raunchy,” Ms Rice said of the episode.