King Hussein of Jordan brought his American wife to the White House last night in a phrase, she wowed them.
Noor al-Hussein, the hometown girl who made good by becoming a real live queen two years ago, was glamor personified when she arrived by limousine with her husband to a North Portico welcome by the president of the United States and the first lady.
Queen Noor, known in her Washington days as just plain Lisa Halaby, was tall and regal in a gown of glittering blue and silver paillettes over pleated chiffon. There was no crown, but she made up for that with a somewhat restrained display of diamonds strategically placed at her ears, her throat, her wrist and her fingers.
In the after-dinner conversation, Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, U.N. Ambassador Donald McHenry and White House councel Lloyd Cutler all admitted the queen's radiance had been part of their discussion over salmon and chateaubriand, but none would elaborate. "I'm sure she made an impression. Let's ask Jane," said Muskie. Observed McHenry, "She is a stunning woman."
In a variation on the same theme, President Carter began his toast by observing: "A lot of people have accused me of inviting Their Majesties to Washington just so we could have Queen Noor visit the White House." And while tht wasn't entirely accurate, he told his 140 dinner guests, "It's a delightful experience for us, and her presence vividly demonstrates the close relationship and the unbreakable ties between our two countries."
Carter invitation, in fact, brought Hussein back to Washington for the first time in three years. It was seen as an attempt by Carter to draw Hussein into the autonomy talks for Israeli-occupied areas on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Carter told the crowd, which included several senators, congressmen and high-ranking administration officials, that his discussions with Hussein earlier in the day had been good -- "much better than would have been expected, because of his frankness and because of his generosity, his eagerness to understand different points of view without yielding at all on the deep principles which have guided his life and which he holds so dear."
Carter went on to say that because of Hussein's leadership and the "geographical circumstances" of Jordan, that nation "will indeed play a central role in the realization of hopes and dreams of all who want peace and stability and freedom and security in the Middle East."
In his response, the 44-year-old monarch acknowledged "differences in approach" but said both he and Carter share a dedication to peace.
"We look into the future with hope, with determination, to contribute our full share for the establishment of a just and durable peace in the Middle East which will affect not only those who live there, but future generations there and elsewhere in the world."
Hussein, who has made frequent visits to the United States since becoming King 25 years ago, said being here was almost like being "at home." For his 28-year-old wife, being back in Washington was being "at home." Among the guests were her parents, now separated, former Pan American Airways Chairman Najeeb Halaby, and Doris Halaby. The queen attended National Cathedral School for Girls and later studied architecture at Princeton University. She met the king in Amman, where she was working with Jordanian Air Lines. A widower whose third wife had been killed in a helicopter accident, Hussein swept Lisa Halaby off her feet. They were married a few months later.
A licensed pilot, Hussein was at the controls of his plane when it arrived Monday at Andrews Air Force Base carrying not only his queen but also their baby, Prince Hamzah, born this spring and fourth in line of succession to the throne.
At last night's dinner, one of the most sought-after men in the black tie crowd, the queen's father, described her as "the utmost -- the queen in every respect." He said she's changed since her Washington days, "she's grown more self-confident, poised and very composed." Halaby called Hussein's two young sons, Prince Abdullah and Prince Faisal, students at Deerfield Academy, "good kids." But the "character," Halaby continued, was Hamzah, named for the uncle of the prophet Mohammed. And King Hussein, Halaby continued, is a direct descendent of Mohammed.
Rosalynn Carter, who was wearing a diaphanous mauve blouse over a white and mauve shirt, seemed to take the young queen under her wing, showing her the Washington Monument from the formal rooms and reportedly sending baby supplies over to Blair House during the day.
Among all the fuss about the royal family, occasionally the dinner talk turned to the day's politics. In a television interview yesterday, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had called Hussein an "opportunist." Last night, talking with reporters in the Red Room, Hussein said "I saw those remarks on television today also. I know where I stand. I've always been concerned with life for the generations to come; for me that's more important than today's disagreements."
Of Hussein's talks with Carter yesterday, Muskie said he could not characterize them as "making amends." He said "by and large they were wxploratory. The presient and His Majesty laid down their respective views. The really substantive talks will come tomorrow."
Middle East peace negotiator Sol M. Linowitz said the two leaders approached each other "a little gingerly" since there had been some misunderstandings about "whether the king had indicated a willingness to support Camp David. At this juncture they were trying to make sure points of view will be expressed." Then holding up his hands to demonstrate, Linowitz said, "I've got my fingers crossed."
A Senate vote on the foreign aid bill interrupted the dinner for three legislators, Sens. John Warner (R-Va.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and John Glenn (D-Ohio).
"We told Muskie we wouldn't be able to look him in the eye if we didn't go vote," Leahy said later. "And I said goddammit, don't ever have that bill come up again during a state dinner." Leahy said, laughing. When Warner returned, President Carter said to him "I'm glad you got back. Did you have any dinner?" The answer was a wistful no.
Warner made his re-entrance near the end of Andre Watts' concert, which was performed on a newly renovated Steinway in the East Room, before the proud piano patriarch, John Steinway. Carter told his guests that Theodore Steinway had given the piano to Franklin Roosevelt in 1938.
"They happened to be stamp collectors together," Carter explained. "i collect old bottles, and I'm waiting. . . ."
Carter supporters at the dinner seemed unflustered by the results of a Newsweek poll that showed Ronald Reagan pulling ahead of Carter. "All the poll says is that we've got more work to do. We are still confident that we will win," said Vincent Marotta, a staunch Carter supporter and the inventor of the Mr. Coffee machine. Chip Carter was also optimistic.The more they scrutinize Reagan the better for us," said the president's son. As for Sen. Edward Kennedy's refusal to drop out of the race, Carter said, "I think he's trying to prove he's a good Democrat."
After last night's dinner, Hussein was scheduled to take a midnight tour of the Air and Space Museum, at the Request of Sen. John Glenn.
Earlier in the day, Hussein was entertained at lunch by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, followed by a coffee given by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Rep. Clement J. Zablocki (D-Wis.), chairman of the House committee that welcomed Hussein, acknowledged that while there have been "some differenes of opinion" between the United States and Jordan on the Mideast peace process, "we all agree that in the final settlement, the Palestinians must have a larger voice in determining their future."
But while the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel have been "a significant landmark on the road to final settlement," Zablocki said the treaty could not be viewed as "an end in itself. If that treaty is to be successful it must serve as a catalyst for further gain in achieving a peace settlement."
Hussein sat between Zablocki and Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.), who delivered remarks for House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., who was unable to attend. Seated at round tables for 10 set up in the committee's Rayburn Building hearing room were 100 chairmen and ranking GOP members of key House committees. Hussein signed the guest book with a flourish, then found members waiting for a chance to get his autograph on the day's printed program. Guests at the Dinner Prince Abdullah, son of the king Prince Faisal, son of the king H. E. Sharif Abdul Hamid Sharaf & Mrs. Sharaf, prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan H. E. Ahmad Lawzi, chief of royal court Lt. General (Ret.) Amer Kammash, minister of court Lt. General Sharif Zaid Bin Shaker & Mrs. Bin Shaker, commander in chief of the Jordan Armed Forces The Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan & Mrs. Sharaf Yanal Hikmat, chief of royal protocol Major Gen. Dr. Samir Farraj, king's personal physician Lt. Col. Humeidi al-Fayez, chief of His Majesty's guard detail Mr. Mohammad Munir Durra, director of prime minister's office Hon. Shaher H. Bak & Mrs. Bak, minister-counselor, Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Brig. Gen. Khalid Mohammad Ali, defense and armed forces attache, Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Mr. Ayman Majali, assistant chief of protocol Mr. Fuad Ayoub, press secretary to the king The Secretary of State & Mrs. Muskie Hon. & Mrs. Donald F. McHenry, U.S. representative to the United Nations Hon. & Mrs. Reubin Askew, U.S. trade representative Hon. Zbigniew Brzezinski, assistant to the president for national security affairs Sen. & Mrs. John H. Glenn (D-Ohio) Sen. & Mrs. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) Rep. & Mrs. Morris Udall (D-Ariz.) Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.); guest: Miss Debbie Hamilton, daughter Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.); guest: Ms. Priscilla Lowell Rep. & Mrs. Ralph S. Regula (R-Ohio) Rep. & Mrs. Ronnie G. Flippo (D-Ala.) Hon. & Mrs. Lloyd N. Cutler, counsel to the president Hon. & Mrs. William J. Perry, under secretary of defense for research & engineering Hon. & Mrs. Nicholas A. Veliotes, American ambassador to Jordan The Chief of Protocol & Mrs. Valdez Hon. & Mrs. Sol. M. Linowitz, personal representative of the president for Middle East peace negotiations Hon. Harold H. Saunders, assistant secretary of state; guest: Ms. Mary Ann Dubs Hon. Donna E. Shalala, assistant secretary of Housing & Urban Development; guest: Mr. Tom Goodwin Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hunter, National Security Council staff member Admiral & Mrs. John B. Hayes, commandant, United States Coast Guard Hon. & Mrs. Frank E. Loy, deputy United States coordinator for refugee affairs Mr. & Mrs. Jay P. Altmayer, Sr., owner, J.P. Altmayer Co., Mobile, Ala. Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Blassie, St. Louis, Mo. Mr. & Mrs. George Bristol, Whitefish, Mont. Ms. Sarah B. Burnett, president, W. Linton Howard & Co., Inc., Atlanta; guest: Mr. John D. Burroughs, Sr. Mr. & Mrs. Anthony Capozzl, attorney, Fresno, Calif. Mr. James Earl Carter, III; guest: Ms. Heidi Hanson Mr. & Mrs. John W. Carter, Calhoun, Ga. Mr. & Mrs. Marwin S. Cassel; attorney, Miami, Fla. Mr. & Mrs. Jeffrey I. Friedman, president, Associates Estates Corporation, Cleveland, Ohio. Mr. & Mrs. William R. Glendon, attorney, New York, N.Y. Mr. & Mrs. Richard Greco, chairman, Metropolitan Bank of Tampa, Fla. Miss Alexa Halaby, sister of the queen, Alpine, N.J. Mr. & Mrs. Christian Halaby, brother of the queen, Menlo Park, Calif. Mrs. Doris Halaby, mother of the queen, New York, N.Y. Hon. Najeeb Halaby, father of the queen, Alpine, N.J. Mrs. John Izard, Guest: Miss Sadie Izard, Biltmore, N.C. Mr. & Mrs. John Izard, attorney, Atlanta, Ga. Mr. & Mrs. Douglas Jaffe, San Antonio, Tex. Mr. & Mrs. Max M. Kampelman, Washington, D.C. Mr. & Mrs. Michael Jones Mrs. Allison LaLand, Guest: Mr. John Gruber, Washington, D.C. Mr & Mrs. Richard J. MacLaury, attorney, San Francisco, Calif. Mr. & Mrs. Vincent Marotta, chairman, North American Systems, Inc., Bedford Heights, Ohio Mr. & Mrs. Willard H. McGuire, president, National Education Association Mr. Stephen Muskie, Biddeford, Me. Mr. & Mrs. David Padgett, Douglasville, Ga. Mr. & Mrs. Eugene Patterson, editor, St. Petersburg Times & Evening Independent Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Plunkett, Carrollton, Ga. Mr. & Mrs. John Schwabe, Portland, Ore. Mr. & Mrs. Paul C. Sheeline, chairman, Inter-Contiental Hotels Corporation, New York, N.Y. Mr. & Mrs. Jacob Sheinkman, secretary-treasurer, Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union, New York, N.Y. Mr. & Mrs. Samuel J. Simmons, Mr. -- president, National Center for Housing Management, Mrs. -- vice president, D.C. School Board Dr. & Mrs. Walter L. Smith, president, Florida A & M University, Tallahassee Dr. & Mrs. Jose Solano, Washington, D.C. Hon. & Mrs. Peter Solomon, deputy mayor of New York City Mr. John H. Steinway, Steinway & Sons, Long Island City, New York, N.Y. Dr. & Mrs. Charles E. Taylor, president, Wilberforce University, Xenia, Ohio Mr. Andre M. Watts; guest: Ms. Nancy Britz, guest artist, Suffern, N.Y. Mr. & Mrs. Gene A. Whiddon, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Mr. & Mrs. Bennett Yanowitz, chairman, National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, New York, N.Y.