Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iranian Minister Offended by Dress

SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt -- Larissa Abramova, a Ukrainian violinist, thought her red dress was lovely. But apparently it offended Iran's foreign minister -- and got him out of a gala dinner attended by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Abramova said Friday that she was wearing a red, sleeveless dress with long matching gloves coming up past the elbow and a red scarf draped over the low-cut front.

She chose the ensemble especially for Thursday's dinner for dozens of the world's top diplomats at a beach hotel where she plays every night -- because, she said, she knew she would "look beautiful in it."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit had hoped the occasion would be a chance for Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Rice to have an informal talk on the sidelines of the international conference they were attending.

But Mottaki stayed away from the dinner, held in a restaurant on the hotel's beach. He told reporters later that the dinner fell short of "Islamic standards." U.S. officials said he complained the hotel violinist was dressed too revealingly.

Abramova said she could not believe her dress was to blame. "I think the problem [is] not in me and not in my dress," she said, speaking at times in English and at times through an interpreter.

Mottaki never made it to the actual party. He went as far as the lobby, where Abramova was playing at the bar, entertaining the dozens of diplomats passing by on their way to the restaurant.

He entered the lobby and sat down briefly, never going out to the restaurant, Aboul Gheit said.

Abramova said she saw many diplomats in suits passing by, but did not recognize Mottaki or notice him sitting. At the time, she was playing her usual repertoire of classic pop songs, like the themes to "Love Story," "Dr. Zhivago" and "The Godfather."

She said she believed the problem was likely as much from the women in mini-skirts in the hotel as her dress. Dress code in Sharm, a secular party town, falls far short of the strict Islamic garb -- including the headscarf -- enforced on women in Iran.

When Abramova showed up Friday evening for her nightly show, she was surrounded by journalists, photographers and cameramen. She said she felt "a little bit embarrassed" by the attention but she was "OK."