Fw: Pool report on welcome ceremony at National Palace

From: David Smith [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Monday, July 27, 2015 11:45 AM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP; Barnes, Desiree N. EOP
Subject: Pool report on welcome ceremony at National Palace

Moments before POTUS arrived in the courtyard of the ornate National Palace at 10.30am, a giant photo of him toppled forward to the ground. A suited official walked over and set it back up just in time. Next to it was an equally giant photo of Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn. An American official also made a last minute adjustment to the US flag.

Also known as Jubilee Palace, the building went up in 1955 to mark emperor Haile Selassie’s silver jubilee (he was deposed in 1973). One of his titles was "The Lion of Judah" and there are two lion statues above the classical portico, which looks a little shabby and has evidently not been painted for a while. The entrance was flanked by two statues, each apparently depicting a young man with a ram, and the US and Ethiopian flags. The palace boasts huge rooms, chandeliers, polished parquet floors, marble floors, giant tapestries and a herd of stuffed African animals, including cheetahs and lions.

Desalegn, wearing spectacles, who had been waiting on steps that are chipped and uneven, walked forward and left to greet POTUS, who wore a blue pattered tie and emerged from his limousine after a short pause. The leaders smiled, shook hands and exchanged a few words, inaudible to the pool, before proceeding to the carpeted dais in front of the palace for a welcoming ceremony in the sunlit courtyard surrounded by trees and gardens.

POTUS and Desalegn could see three uniformed soldiers wearing green and red hats, beige tunics with green and yellow epaulettes, green trousers and black shoes, each holding swords upright. Beyond them were three rows, each of 14 soldiers, holding rifles. An officer shouted an order for the soldiers to stand to attention.

Standing at the rear on a lawn, a brass band played the Star Spangled Banner. POTUS, along with nine US delegates on the steps behind him, stood still with hand on heart until it was finished. The band then immediately played the Ethiopian national anthem. There were 13 Ethiopian delegates on the steps behind Desalegn.

Cannon fired multiple times in the distance; pool could not hear exactly how often because the band struck up another piece of music. POTUS, following a short distance behind a soldier holding sword upright, proceeded to walk one lap of a red carpet that formed a square. This took him past the front row of the soldiers standing to attention.

POTUS returned to the dais and, at 10.37am, walked inside the front entrance of the palace with Desalegn, followed by both delegations.

The giant photos of POTUS and Desalegn have captions and adverts for the company that made them, Sayas advert and art studios, along with a phone number.

The US delegation included:
Josh Earnest, Press Secretary
Grant Harris, Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council
Patricia Haslach, US Ambassador to Ethiopia
Jason Israel, Director of African Affairs at the National Security Council
Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting
Susan Rice, National Security Adviser
Gayle Smith, Senior Director at the National Security Council
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs


David Smith
Africa correspondent
The Guardian (UK)
Tel: +27 (0) 11 xxx-xxx-xxxx
Mob: +27 (0) 72 xxx-xxx-xxxx
Email: xxx@email.com
Skype: smithinafrica
Twitter: >http://twitter.com/SmithInAfrica<
Web: >http://www.theguardian.com/profile/davidsmith<


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