J-Lo hails Turkmen chief’s birthday

AFP-JIJI

U.S. pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” on Sunday to Turkmenistan leader Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov in a lavish celebration at a $2 billion Caspian Sea resort.

J-Lo is believed to be the first major Western star to visit the isolated former Soviet republic in Central Asia, known primarily for its vast gas reserves and a dismal human rights record.

Dressed in a clingy outfit, the singer performed with half-naked backing dancers and shook her famous derriere in a rare performance in the Muslim country, applauded enthusiastically by ministers, ambassadors and chief executives of state-owned companies.

She later appeared in a traditional Turkmen dress to sing “Happy birthday, Mr. President” together with stars from Russia, Ukraine, China and Turkey.

A report by Human Rights Watch in January described Turkmenistan as “one of the world’s most repressive” regimes.

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