Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Marshall Josip Broz Tito, president of Yugoslavia, is 85, has survived two world wars and defied Josef Stalin - and he is in no hurry.
So, his evening at the White House, where he was the first Communist head of state to visit Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, was leisurely. He arrived almost 10 minutes late, and even the after-dinner exchange of toasts - complete with Serbo-Croatian and English translations - lasted 40 minutes.
Less than 10 of those minutes were taken up by Carter, and it was speculated in the press room (where New York State champagne was served) that the Schramsberg blanc de blancs (1974) at the head table must have gone flat before it was gulped down.
When Tito arrived at the North Portico Tuesday evening, Carter rushed down the stairs to his limousine and took his hands even before he got out of the car. The Yugoslavian leader, wearing topaz tinted glasses, seemed ready for the media's flashbulbs and floodlights, which helped warm the chilly porch.
Carter's toasts included a few jokes that got a big laugh on their first delivery and a smaller one after the translation. He noted that Tito cultivates grapevines for wine and declared that this was "my second-favorite vine - the first being peanuts, as you know." His brother Billy, he added, "produces beer rather than wine."
In a more serious vein, he recalled that Tito had recently been called "the last political giant" and hailed him as "a man of eternal strength, eternal youth, eternal vigor, eternal courage."
In his 14-page response to the president's toast, Tito delivered a panoramic survey of international problems and a rough agenda for their solution. He mentioned detente as the "major preoccupation of both the United States and Yugoslavia," and he also cited the Middle East, particularly the Palestinian issue, the Horn of Africa, apartheid in South Africa, the arms race and the Panama Canal. He spoke at length on both the problems and the value of the unaligned nations, and warned that efforts to coerce them into joining a bloc could have serious consequences.
Through Carter's support of the canal treaties, he said, America "has gained in the eyes of the world." He cited it as and example of "the creation of understanding and cooperation" and said it has "encouraged the hopes" for similar solutions to other problems.
Just before Carter described the grapevines and Tito's private island, the press corps learned from the Yugoslavian press entourage of 30 that Tito is jovial, likes all films, especially Kirk Douglas, permitted Richard Burton to make a movie in Yugoslavia about an epic battle Tito commanded, still tinkers in his metal workshop and prepares his own Turkish coffee each morning.
Perhaps realizing the expansiveness of his toast, Tito interrupted the first words of his translator by saying, in Serbo-Croatian, "First let's drink."
Tito was not accompanied by his wife, Jovanka Broz, who did not go on his trips to Moscow and Peking.
[WORD ILLEGIBLE] of a rift between the couple [WORD ILLEGIBLE] last October, and Tito ordered investigation into her political influence.
An official at the Yugoslav embassy denied a report on a recent U.S. television program that Tito has a 24-year-old girl friend. "No, that's untrue as usual," said Dusan Stojkovic.
The livelist part of the evening was supplied in the entertainment by the Romero family, Celedonio and his sons Celin, Pepe and Angel, who are known as "the royal family of the guitar." They performed a variety of classical dances as well as concerto movements by Bach and Telemann, and for an encore Angel Romero played "Recuerdos Del Alhambra" by Albeniz, a composition Carter had especially enjoyed when he first heard it in Georgia.
Carter explained that his own virtuoso instrument, on which "I did about the same thing as they" was the ukulele, not the guitar. "In Hawaii, I learned the ukulele and Rosalynn learned the hula," he said. Neither was included in Tuesday night's entertainment.