Islamabad, Oct 9 (ANI): In a diplomatic blooper, the Obama administration did not allow a number of foreign ambassadors to enter the White House to attend the second annual reception for "Chiefs of Mission" and "Charges d'Affaires," reportedly because the information on their identification did not match with that on the check-in list.
According to a well-reputed magazine's report dated October 6, 2010, envoys from Oman, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, and several other countries were stopped at the door while European diplomats from France and Finland were allowed to enter, The Nation reported.
Explaining the situation, one administration official said that many of the foreign ambassadors and charge d'affaires, when supplying their personal information in advance to get access to the White House grounds, used the European style of date (DD/MM/YY) instead of the American style (MM/DD/YY).
"So, for example, your humble Cable guy was born on Dec 31 (yes, New Year's Eve), but if the date was given to the White House as 31/12/19XX (the year is classified), that wouldn't match their official identification and entry to the White House would be denied," the official clarified, citing an example.
One of the ambassadors who eventually left after waiting for more than 45 minutes, disclosed that the State Department had called him to explain that the mistake was the administration's doing, and that the problem had been created when someone entered the date of birth wrong in an excel spreadsheet.
"The apology they gave to us was that it was a technical fault on their end and they explained that whoever was punching the information in, entered the information wrong," he said.
"It's an example of how a little thing can become a bigger deal," said another ambassador who was denied entry. "Most of the ambassadors took it in their stride but some of them really got offended," the magazine said.
It further stated that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called up the affected ambassadors to apologise.
White House Spokesman Ben Chang also issued this apologetic statement, "At the start of the reception for Chiefs of Mission and Charges d'Affaires (Tuesday afternoon), a few guests were delayed at the entrance to the White House due to an error in processing their personal data. While eventually resolved, we regret that some departed due to the delay and apologise to those inconvenienced." (ANI)