The Iranian entered the lunch, greeting the gathered diplomats with the Arabic phrase, "As-salama aleikum," a Muslim greeting often used by Iran's Farsi speakers meaning "Peace be upon you," according to an Iraqi official who was present.As someone who used to warm himself with a nice cone on below-freezing Dupont Circle days, I can identify.
Rice replied to him in English, "Hello," then added: "Your English is better than my Arabic," according to the Iraqi official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the lunch was private.
Aboul Gheit then piped in, telling Mottaki, "We want to warm the atmosphere some."
Mottaki smiled and replied in English with a saying: "In Russia, they eat ice cream in winter because it's warmer than the weather" — more or less meaning, "You take whatever atmosphere-warming you can get."
"That's true," Rice replied, according to the Iraqi official.
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