Shakira shakes off attack on U.K. prime minister

Shakira took a break from performing her world-famous hip shimmy Monday but still had to sing and dance her way through a conference call that presaged Tuesday’s appearance on Capitol Hill, where she’s lobbying for worldwide education.

The Colombian pop star was joined on the call by United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown; Robert Zoellick, the president of The World Bank; and Gene Sperling, chairman of the U.S. chapter of the Global Campaign for Education.

Shakira defended Brown to a nervy British reporter who twisted the conference call’s topic into Brown’s popularity polls in his country. “Gordon Brown is facing a lot of criticism at home,” began Greg Hurst of The Times of London, shortly after the prime minister spoke about worldwide education efforts and was presumably still on the line.  

“Some say he is difficult to work with, and others say he is awkward in public,” Hurst said, then asking whether Brown’s conference call with an international pop star was an attempt to boost his own popularity.

Shakira, who is set to meet Tuesday with Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), sang Brown’s praises (not literally, unfortunately).   

“I applaud his work, and I applaud the fact that he is brave enough to talk to celebrities like me, because there could be journalists like you who make conclusions like those,” she replied graciously.

Brown had no response.

On her visit to the Hill, Shakira said she’s excited to meet “with both sides of the coin,” and by “coin” she likely means “aisle.” She balked at discussing one of the Hill’s hot topics — a free trade agreement with her home country — saying no more than, “It’s no news, the fact that I support it.”

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