When you’re the single, dynamic secretary of state for the United States, you’re bound to pick up groupies in all corners of the international diplomatic scene.
But for Condoleezza Rice, who charmed diplomats from Rome to London to Pictou, Nova Scotia, perhaps the strangest of all has always been Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.
”Leezza, Leezza, Leezza … I love her very much,” Colonel Gaddafi told al-Jazeera in 2007, calling her his ”darling black African woman”.
Dr Rice visited him in September 2008, at the same compound that Libyan rebels are now ransacking. In greeting Dr Rice, Colonel Gaddafi at the time put his hand to his heart and asked her how she was.
”I’m very well, thank you,” she answered.
Undeterred by the language barrier, Colonel Gaddafi spoke to her in Arabic through an interpreter.
He was seeking to improve relations with the US, and he and Dr Rice shared an Iftar meal to mark the end of the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
Colonel Gaddafi was so smitten that he apparently assembled – or had a minion assemble – a photo album of Dr Rice. Rebels going through his compound in Tripoli this week unearthed the photo album stocked with Dr Rice’s visage on every page.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland yesterday described the discovery as ”deeply bizarre and deeply creepy”.