Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The Prime Minister of Belgium was obviously pleased. His meeting with President Carter earlier in the day had been "excellent - excellent," he said, adding that "I don't say it to flatter my host, but it was very personal, very human."
Leo Tindemans, the first Belgian head of government to visit the United States since 1937, arrived Wednesday for three days of meetings with Carter and members of his administration, and Wednesday night Tindemans and his wife hosted a black-tie dinner at Belgium's Foxhall Road embassy for Vice President and Mrs. Mondale.
Had they all noticed how the sun came out for the prime minister's arrival at the White House Wednesday morning? Mondale inquired politely of one Belgian official during cocktails. It was just a little something "we had arranged," deadpanned Mondale, adding that "of course we can't admit to all of our connections . . ."
The Belgian "connections," in fact, was one of the Carter administration's first. Mondale, in his toast, recalled how 90 hours after Carter and he were sworn into office last January, he was off on his first diplomatic mission, which included a stop to meet Tindemans in Brussels. The warm reaction he received from the Belgians helped convince him that he might be destined for a career of a "great statesman."
As Belgium's prime minister, Tindemans is currently taking his turn for six months as president of the European Economic Community. His visit here emphasizes a broad range of interests, from energy to trade to economics of a variety of persuasions.
One member of the prime minister's official party said that they would like to see the EEC present at future economic summits as a recognized participant.
Tindemans told one of his guests during his toast, while the other 60 looked on, that he would want to talk about monetary problems when they met on Thursday. Later, Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal said, "We have a good strong economy" and, "We're backing up the dollar," which has been plunging on world markets in recent days.
The guests dined on a five-course meal that began with "Cailles Farciesau Foie Gras." "You can't get them in any restaurant," explained Belgian Ambassador and Mrs. van Cauwenberg's social secretary to presidential assistant Hugh Carter, adding that the Belgian embassy's chef uses only Virginia quail. "Maryland is too strict, you know. They only allow three quail to a hunter."
Tindemans paid special tribute to Robert S. Strauss, President Carter's special representative for trade negotiations, who was at the Wednesday dinner with his wife, Helen. It was Strauss' birthday, and he received a cupcake from the Belgians and a whole cake earlier in the day at the White House.
"I'm approaching the age of senility," Strauss, who is 59, cracked later. He said the President had arranged for a surprise party for him and "told everybody there, including all the old Democratic National Committee co-workers, that "the reason they extended the retirement age is to help Bob Strauss.' It wa a helluva party."