On the Plane

Middle East Reunion

SHANNON, Ireland, March 27--Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is headed home, after completing her swing through the Middle East. The secretary held a summing up news conference this morning -- the one that had been unexpectedly delayed yesterday (for the record, she told reporters she decided to delay it because she is "fresher" in the morning.) Her appearance came after U.S. and Israeli officials haggled until late in the evening over the text of Rice's final statement on the trip.

But before this edition of the "On the Plane" blog ends, here is a story about a king and a network producer.

On Monday, after Rice flew to Amman, Jordan, NBC News producer Libby Leist was standing outside King Abdullah's palace with the network crew waiting to record Rice's arrival. The King was standing around also, cooling his heels, when, Leist recalled, the monarch said he was an alumnus of Deerfield Academy, the distinguished prep school in Massachusetts. Leist, also a Deerfield alum, called out, "Deerfield Academy!"

The King unexpectedly walked over, and the two of them began reminiscing about their old school and the former headmaster. It turns out the King is building a school outside Amman that is modeled after Deerfield. It is called, naturally, "King's Academy."

Later, when Rice and the King were making small talk for the benefit of the cameras, Leist's brush with royalty became the subject of their conversation. The King noted that "one of the young ladies traveling with you" attended Deerfield. Rice appeared nonplussed to hear this and looked around at her staff until Libby, standing with the cameras, waved her hand. Rice said, "Oh, you found an alumnus."

"Yes, it's a small world," the King replied.

--Glenn Kessler

By washingtonpost.com Editors |  March 27, 2007; 10:46 AM ET  | Trip:  Rice in Middle East, March 2007
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