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Goodwill gifts do not violate ban on agency souvenirs

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 4:24 a.m. HST, Nov 14, 2011

First lady Michelle Obama presented sterling-silver orchid brooches and sterling silver cufflinks with Hawaiian koa wood to the leaders and spouses who gathered for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

The intricately designed orchid brooch was handcrafted in sterling silver by Hawaii artist Wayne Keeth, while the cufflinks were designed by Kara Ross, using wood from Hawaii woodturner Keith Maile. The cufflinks are engraved with the words "Made Exclusively for Michelle Obama."

The gifts came only days after President Barack Obama signed an executive order banning souvenirs that federal agencies buy with taxpayer money to promote their work — items like coffee cups, T-shirts and pens. The effort was part of a broader executive order to cut $4 billion in waste to redirect the money to more pressing needs and make government more efficient.

World leaders commonly exchange gifts as an act of good will and diplomacy. The White House said giving gifts represented "a distinct part of the aloha spirit and helps forge new bridges of friendship and understanding."

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