“I'm able ... to announce tonight what I think is something quite special, because I have a letter from Kofi Annan in which he requests, if it would be appropriate, that he could come and deliver a lecture during the Year of Homecoming in tribute to Robert Burns.
“It's an offer which we have been delighted to accept but it's a sign, a symbol, of the power of Robert Burns that the former Secretary-General of the United Nations actually writes to offer a lecture as a contribution to our Year of Homecoming.
“We should accept, and will accept, Kofi Annan's offer with alacrity but it's a tribute not just to Kofi Annan's grace but also to Robert Burns.”
How unfortunate (which is one way of putting it) that The Times reports today:
Alex Salmond was embroiled in an extraordinary diplomatic row yesterday with Kofi Annan, the former United Nations Secretary-General, over claims by the First Minister that Mr Annan will visit Scotland as part of the year of Homecoming to give a lecture on Robert Burns.
The Times was told by Mr Annan's representatives in Britain that he has not made such a promise and that, while he will travel to Scotland this year, it will be to deliver a lecture on the economist Adam Smith at the invitation of Gordon Brown.
Oh dear. Perhaps honest Alex will need to spend some time on the naughty step?