Why John Kerry gave Russia's foreign minister potatoes

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Being the United States' top diplomat is an incredibly difficult job that requires one to be smooth, tough and cool in knowing that you're always one misstep away from starting an international incident.

But on the plus side, you sometimes get to give potatoes as gifts.

Secretary of State John Kerry, meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Paris, presented his Russian counterpart with two extremely large Idaho potatoes. Not exactly a PlayStation 4, but there was a good reason for the gift.

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NBC News reports that Kerry said that Lavrov had mentioned Idaho potatoes during a previous meeting.

Via NBC News:

Russia's foreign minister seemed to appreciate the gesture, smiling and remarking that the gifts were "impressive."

The Russians, not the type to receive a gift without having one to give, presented State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki with a pink ushanka hat, for keeping warm during the Sochi Olympics.

In 2009, then- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presented Lavrov with a red "reset button" intended to symbolize a desire to restart the two nations' relationship on a positive track after a split over Russia's invasion of Georgia.

Often, the United States is on the receiving end of unusual gifts. For example, in 2012, President Barack Obama received a  saber with a 34-inch blade from Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.

For a full list of gifts received from foreign sources by employees of the executive branch of the  U.S. government, check out this long — but fascinating list. A nice perk, but keep in mind that just because you get a gift doesn't always mean it's yours to keep.

Via State.gov:

Gifts received by the President, Vice President and the Secretary of State and spouses from foreign governments, are turned in to the Gift Unit in the Office of Protocol.

 Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).