Tongue-tied Clinton gets warm welcome
Hillary Clinton raised eyebrows on her first visit to Europe as secretary of state when she mispronounced her EU counterparts' names and claimed U.S. democracy was older than Europe's.
Clinton has set herself a grueling pace on visits to Egypt, Israel and Brussels soon after touring the Far East, attending dozens of meetings and giving speech after speech, with little time worked into her schedule for sleep.
Tiredness appeared to show Friday when she answered questions in front of 500 young Europeans at the European Parliament, where she was the highest-ranking U.S. visitor since the late President Ronald Reagan in 1985.
A veteran politician, Clinton compared the complex European political environment to that of the two-party U.S. system, before adding:
"I have never understood multiparty democracy.
"It is hard enough with two parties to come to any resolution, and I say this very respectfully, because I feel the same way about our own democracy, which has been around a lot longer than European democracy."
The remark provoked much headshaking in the parliament of a bloc that likes to trace back its democratic tradition thousands of years to the days of classical Greece.
One working lunch later with EU leaders, Clinton raised more eyebrows when she referred to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who stoodbeside her, as "High Representative Solano."
She also dubbed European Commission External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner as "Benito."
By David Brunnstrom