Reagans Dine in Kremlin Splendor, Tour Gorbachevs' Guest Rooms
CAROL J. WILLIAMS
May. 31, 1988
MOSCOW (AP) _ The Reagans dined on champagne and caviar in the citadel of communism. The Gorbachevs set aside their campaign against drinking to serve the best of Russian wines. The evening sun poured through floor-to-ceiling windows.
All glittered when the Gorbachevs played host to the visiting American president and his wife in the icon-lavished splendor of the Kremlin's Hall of Facets, then led them on a tour toured the fortress's private rooms where they could have stayed as guests if they had wished.
The Gorbachevs' state dinner Monday night under the vaulted, frescoed ceilings of the opulent chamber drew the entire Communist Party hierarchy and a select group of Moscow intellectuals, scientists, a cosmonaut and Russian Orthodox clergy.
Soviet leader Mikhail S. and President Reagan lifted their crystal glasses of Georgian wine to toast their success in narrowing the gap between the superpowers and to wish for future triumphs in learning to deal with and respect each other.
The elegant dining hall was awash in light, from the windows letting in the late spring evening sunshine and the fully illuminated chandeliers that adorn the hall.
Silver candlesticks raising tall white tapers and sprays of pink roses decorated tables spread with salmon pink linen.
The Kremlin pomp was more subtle than December's White House state dinner for the visiting Gorbachevs, where the women wore formal-length gowns and the American men sported black-tie attire.
At that occasion, Gorbachev and his advisers showed up in business suits, causing eyebrows to lift in social circles.
On the occasion of the Reagans' visit, the hosts set aside their anti- alcohol inclinations to treat their guests to domestic wines, champagne and cognac from the southern republics of Georgia and Armenia, to go with a dinner that began with caviar, turkey fillets and puff pastry and progressed through soups and courses of veal and perch.
The president gave Gorbachev a video cassette of an American film, ''Friendly Persuasion,'' regaling the mostly Soviet gathering with a lengthy description of the Civil War story but promising not to ''spoil its outcome.''
Fourteen Americans were invited to the state dinner, including Secretary of State George Shultz, U.S. Ambassador Jack Matlock and Reagan's senior advisers.
Among the Soviet guests were all members of the ruling Politburo except Vladimir Shcherbitsky, who is based in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. The guests included space scientist Roald Sagdeyev, filmmaker Elem Klimov, former cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova and a host of party officials.
Mrs. Gorbachev, in a sequined blouse and black skirt, listened attentively at Reagan's side while her husband told his guests their two nations had made history with the accord ridding the world of an entire class of weapons.
''Now we have an unprecedented treaty. And our countries will have to perform for the first time an overture of nuclear disarmament,'' the Soviet leader said. ''The performance should be faultless.''
Gorbachev also pointed to the U.S. and Soviet role as guarantors of the Afghan accords signed in Geneva on April 14, noting their cooperation is of ''immense significance'' for their future.
''The entire world is watching how we both will act in this situation,'' Gorbachev said.
In his response, Reagan focused on the accomplishments he and Gorbachev have been able to achieve in their four meetings since 1985.
''These are good first steps, Mr. General Secretary, and we can both take pride in them,'' Reagan said, as the first lady, in a red print dress and heavy gold necklace, listened from Gorbachev's rose-strewn table.
The Reagans stayed at the Kremlin for more than an hour after the dinner for a tour by their hosts of the Grand Kremlin Palace's private rooms, where former President Richard M. Nixon stayed during his 1972 and 1974 summits here.
''They were quite lovely and the entire palace was really quite magnificent,'' Mrs. Reagan said, according to her press secretary, Elaine Crispen.
U.S. industrialist Armand Hammer, whose ties with the Soviets reach back to the days of Soviet founder Vladimir I. Lenin's leadership, described the state dinner as ''a very warm and happy occasion.''