Life on Ship Romantic for Raisa Gorbachev
Oct. 12, 1986
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) _ While her husband conferred Saturday with President Reagan, Raisa Gorbachev saw the sights of the Icelandic capital and had lunch with the wife of the prime minister.
Mrs. Gorbachev, who has charmed her hosts on other visits to the West, told reporters that she accompanied her husband, Mikhail, to the superpower summit, ''because I have never been in Iceland.''
''I wanted to see the country, the mountains and the hot springs,'' she said, referring to the natural splendors of this austere volcanic island just south of the Arctic Circle.
As for life on the ocean-going ferry where she and Gorbachev are staying, she said, ''Ah, wonderful. Very romantic.''
Asked whether she wished Nancy Reagan had accompanied her husband to Iceland, Mrs. Gorbachev replied, ''It is difficult for me to say. Maybe she had her reasons - obligations or maybe she is not well.''
Mrs. Reagan, at a dinner Saturday in Washington, said she wasn't bothered by Mrs. Gorbachev's remark concerning her health, adding, ''The invitation that came from Mr. Gorbachev to my husband was for a business meeting between the two of them. I thought it was improper for me to go.''
She replied, ''That's not for me to say,'' when a reporter asked if she thought it improper for Mrs. Gorbachev to go to Iceland.
Mrs. Gorbachev, whose knowledge of the English vocabulary is limited, repeated several times what seemed to be her only two English phrases, ''It is beautiful,'' and ''Good morning.''
Despite her public prominence, Mrs. Gorbachev observed the news blackout surrounding the meetings, declining to speculate on the outcome or when she and her husband might travel to the United States.
''I think the meeting in Rejkjavik will make it more clear'' when the U.S. summit will be held, she said.
There was no indication Saturday whether the meetings would produce a date for the U.S. summit or would make progress toward arms control.
In the morning, Mrs. Gorbachev left the tightly guarded ferry Georg Ots, where senior members of the Kremlin delegation are staying, and visited the Laugardalur swimming pool.
Chatting with the swimmers, she said, ''I am kind of ashamed of myself just walking around here with all you, who are doing this for your health.''
Later, Mrs. Gorbachev went to the Arnamagnaean Institute, an archive for Icelandic manuscripts dating from as early as the 13th century.
Iceland was settled 1,000 years ago by Vikings, and the modern language is close enough to Old Norse that Icelanders can read the ancient tomes.
Mrs. Gorbachev was clearly delighted about a manuscript about a Norwegian king who spent some time in ancient Russia.
''I conclude from these documents that there are deep roots in the relationship between Iceland and Russia, and our generation should promote these trditions,'' she said.
Mrs. Gorbachev then visited the National Museum to view Viking relics, including helmets, spears, shields and portions of Norse ships, asking numerous questions in a manner which recalled her previous profession, a teacher.
She presented the museum curators with a selection of Soviet folk art, including carved pieces of bone from the north and laquered Khokhloma bowls and boxes characteristic of Russia.
Wearing a gray fur coat against a blustering breeze, near-freezing temperatures and hail flurries, she went to the prime minister's residence for lunch with Edda Gudmundsdottir, wife of Iceland's prime minister.