Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
It wasn't exactly a retirement party - even though Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker is retiring. For the seventh time.
"Sunday I'm going to my farm in Vermont," said Bunker, who was one of the U.S. negotiators for the Panama Canal treaties. He and the other negotiator, Ambassador Sol Linowitz, were honored at the Argentinian Embassy Thursday night.
"I'm retiring. I have no immediate plans," he said. And, "No, I didn't think it would take so long to complete the Panama Canal treaties. After all, it was Nixon who appointed me.
"At that time, Secretary [of State Henry] Kissinger said, 'You know Bunker never finishes anything in under four years.' Of course at that time I thought it was a great joke. But it took us 4 1/2 years."
Linowitz said there was a "50 percent or more chance" of him accepting - for his next assignment - the chairmanship of the President's Council on World Hunger.
"The big question," he said, "is whether I am the right person or not for the job. I told the president that it I take it, it has to be an active position."
Asked if he found the Carter administration's handling of the Canal treaties amateurish - as some criticized - Linowitz replied, "Well, at first they were not well-organized. They didn't really know how to cope, but I was impressed with their commitment to the priorities when it came down to the crunch."
The evening, hosted by Ambassador and Mrs. Jorge A. Aja Espil, began with caviar hors d'oeuvres and progressed to a candlelight sit-down dinner of breast of chicken. The Argentinians not surprisingly were in high spirits because of their recent World Cup Soccer victory.
"There's nothing more important for the economy," said Walter Klein, secretary of state for economic planning and coordination, "than for everybody to be optimistic, and right now in Argentina because of the World Cup we are in a very good mood."
Meanwhile John Moore Jr., president of the Import-Export Bank and a former Atlanta lawyer who has supported Carter since 1966, said his presence at the dinner belied the general feeling in Washington of the administration's lack of sociability.
"It's my job to be here," said Moore, who noted that prior to this he had been at the Nigerian Embassy. "More of us are out there socializing than the press gives us credit for."