Sun, May 06, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Violinist in red `offends' Iranian foreign minister

AP , SHARM EL-SHEIK, EGYPT

Ukrainian violinist Larissa Abramova thought her red dress was lovely. But apparently it offended Iran's foreign minister -- and got her out of a gala dinner attended by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Abramova said on Friday she was wearing a red, sleeveless dress with long matching gloves coming up past the elbow and a red scarf draped over the low-cut front.

She chose the ensemble especially for Thursday's dinner for dozens of the world's top diplomats at a beach hotel where she plays every night knowing she would "look beautiful in it."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit had hoped the occasion would be a chance for Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Rice to have an informal talk on the sidelines of an international conference in this Red Sea resort town.

But Mottaki stayed away from the dinner, held in a restaurant on the hotel's beach.

He later told reporters the dinner fell short of "Islamic standards."

US officials said he complained the hotel violinist's dress was too revealing.

"I don't know which woman he was afraid of, the woman in the red dress or the secretary of state," US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Friday.

The long-haired, attractive Abramova said she couldn't believe her dress was to blame.

"I think the problem [is] not in me and not in my dress," she said, speaking at times in English and at times through an interpreter.

"It was some other reason because he left the party," Abramova said.

Mottaki never made it to the actual party. He only went as far as the lobby, where Abramova was playing at the bar, entertaining the dozens of diplomats passing by on their way to the beach restaurant.

He entered the lobby and sat down briefly, never going out to the restaurant, Aboul Gheit said.

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