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Monday
Aug222011

Biden Greeted in Mongolia, Gifted with Horse

GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images(ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia) -- Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Monday where his hosts celebrated the first visit by a U.S. vice president since 1944 with performances of traditional music and dance, a Mongol-style wrestling competition and a gift: a Mongolian horse.

"The horse is the most important animal in Mongolia,” an aide traveling with Biden told reporters.  “It is the lifeblood of the country (nomadic history), so giving a horse is one of the most meaningful gifts that can be given."

During the presentation ceremony, U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Addleton placed a blue ribbon around the horse’s neck, and Biden tied two knots in it -- a symbolic display meant to signal importance.  Biden said that he named the horse “Celtic.”

But the horse apparently did not respond in kind.

Press pool accounts of the moment said the horse “got a bit excited” by Biden’s gesture and had to be taken away.  Aides said it would not be returning to the U.S. on Air Force 2.

When asked later to explain what happened, Biden said the animal "reared up" on him and concluded that it must not have liked "the Irish epitaph."

After the ceremony, Biden posed for photos with two Mongolian camels and tried his hand at archery.  He later departed for Tokyo, Japan -- the last stop on his week-long swing through East Asia. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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