- Associated Press - Sunday, February 9, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - Picture this scene: Friday night, just before the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics, in what’s called the “presidential lounge” of Fisht Stadium. In the hospitality industry, that phrase “presidential” is often thrown around with very little meaning.

Not on this night.

Here was the president of Ukraine, waiting it out until the festivities began. Here was Vladimir Putin, master of all he surveyed, waiting to open the Olympics that meant so much to him and his nation.

And over there, by the bar, waiting for a cup of coffee, was Hamid Karzai - president of Afghanistan, the nation that Putin’s country had invaded in 1979.

Karzai had no entourage to speak of. He might have been with one other person, but while in the room he was basically alone. AP Photographer David Goldman, who made this photograph, was intrigued.

“I noticed him waiting at the bar, alone. He waited patiently, waiting to kind of be noticed,” Goldman recalls. “Just like any other regular Joe trying to get a drink. That’s what kind of struck me about it.”

After a time, Karzai received his coffee and turned away from the bar. He was, still, alone: no one to talk to, no one to run interference for him.

Finally, his eyes found the president of Azerbaijan. They turned toward each other and talked, two world leaders in a presidential lounge, watching others of their kind - the biggest names of their nations, up close, looking human after all.

- By Ted Anthony - Twitter https://twitter.com/anthonyted


Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: https://apne.ws/1c3WMiu

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