Clinton Hits Wrong ‘Re-Set’ Button With Russia

By Lindsey Ellerson

Mar 6, 2009 3:27pm

ABC News’ Kirit Radia reports: The Obama administration has said it wants to "reset" relations with Russia, which have again become strained in recent years, but an attempt to illustrate this was sidetracked by a translation error. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, with a gift to mark their first meeting in Geneva today: an actual button that said "reset." Or so she thought… "I would like to present you with a little gift that represents what President Obama and Vice President Biden and I have been saying and that is: ‘We want to reset our relationship and so we will do it together,’" Clinton said, presenting Lavrov with the red button. What the foreign minister got, however, was a button that said "peregruzka," which translates into Russian as "overcharge" or "overload" (depending on the context). Oops… "You got it wrong," Lavrov teased Clinton, but said he would put it on his desk anyway. Nevertheless, the two pressed the button together, and only time will tell if the mistranslation is in fact a canary for future relations. Translation gaffes are nothing new. President Kennedy famously declared himself a jelly donut standing in Berlin. President Carter’s translator, wishing to express the commander in chief’s enthusiasm upon arriving in Warsaw, mistakenly told the stunned Poles that Carter would like to make love to them. Perhaps Secretary Clinton is looking for the Staples "Easy" button right now as she tries to fix this one. ABC News’ John Cochran contributed to this report.

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