You haven't seen a snub until you've seen the Chinese and Russian ambassadors snub each other at a party.
China's Chai Zemin and the Soviet Union's Anatoily F. Dobrynin did it standing back-to-back within inches of each other last night at an Indian Embassy party to celebrate India's 30th anniversary as a republic. They and a few other guests among the 300 invited by Indian Charge d'Affaires and Mrs. Ashok Gokhale probably symbolized the international situation in microcosm. For instance:
When Afghanistan's Charge d'Affaires A. Ghafar Farahi stuck out his hand to Dorbynin, the latter shook it but never stopped talking to another Communist-block comrade.
"Funny, you don't see any strings," remarked American University President Richard Berendzen, taking it all in. "Don't puppets usually have strings?"
Farahi beat a hasty retreat into another room where he could keep one eye on photographers and the other on reporters by peering out from behind broader shoulders in the crowd.
"You have to understand," said the ambassador of Mauritania," he does not have the freedom to speak."
Which apparently was not the problem unique to Afghanistan.
"Oh, come on now, this is not a political gathering," Dobrynin scolded when someone asked what he thought of President Carter's State of the Union message. And, incidentally, why as dean of the diplomatic corps hadn't he shown up to hear it with the rest of the corps?
"Oh," Dibrynin said, turning all wide-eyed and innocent, "wasn't I there?"
Saudi Arabian Ambassador Faisal Alhegelan, rubbing his hands and glancing nervously at pen poised over notebook, stuck with "no comment" on Carter's speech. Bandladesh's Tabarak Husain admitted outright that he was waiting for word from home on what his official reaction should be. t
Some had already gotten the word.
"Positive," said Abmassador Chai, going on to define a Chinese-pakistani alliance as a means of helping Pakistan "stand up to the Soviet threats."
"Good, " said Pakistan's Ambassador Sultan M. Kahn, going on to venture the hope that the U.S. countinues playing "its legitimate role as a superpower."
"America's policies are of concern to everyone in the world," said Yugoslavia's Ambassador Budimir Loncar, going on home.
India's Gokhale said Indira Gandi's new government was "very upset -- very concerned" at the prospect of U.S. military aid going to Pakistan "and rather disappointed at the rivalry between the great powers coming closer to our region."
"We all face a new situation in Southeast Asia, and we all want to take a good hard look at it -- I don't mean just us," said Assistant Secretary of State Harold H. Saunders, highest-ranking official there from the administration.
Meanwhile, the party went on, with an abundance of Indian dishes but without alcohol, which kept the crowd moving, at least.
Dobrynin, described by one diplomat as never missing a Republic Day at the Indian Embassy even if he never goes anyplace else, reflected on how vodka sales are doing these days in the United States.
"I think vodka will survive," he said, then posed a question of his own.
"Have you been checking up on Iranian cavair, too?" he asked a reporter. "When you find out, be sure and let me know."