Oh, the demands of diplomacy.
Before dinner, multimillionaire entrepreneur Armand Hammer described the route he took to get to Washington last night. Afterward, Colombian President Belisario Betancur described his.
Said Hammer: "I flew 18 hours to get here from Oman where I had tea with the sultan. The day before I had dinner with the president of Pakistan, who decorated me. The day before that I had dinner with the king of Spain at Mallorca and the day before that, tea with Prince Charles."
Said Betancur to the black-tie crowd of 90 at the dinner Secretary of State George Shultz gave in his honor at the State Department: "I left Bogota' on Saturday. I had lunch in Caracas. Then on Sunday I was in Panama. I was with Ortega in Managua, also in Honduras, then yesterday morning I had breakfast in El Salvador. Three hours later I was in Guatemala and I had lunch in Cancu'n."
That's the glamorous part of global politics. In Hammer's case, the news that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev might be meeting President Reagan for a summit reminded the oil magnate of his recent trip to Moscow for the funeral of Konstantin Chernenko.
"Paris Match said at the funeral Gorbachev smiled at two people -- Margaret Thatcher and Armand Hammer," said a grinning Hammer.
In Betancur's case, his hop-scotching itinerary was, as he put it, "seeking peace in Central America."
That reflected the more immediate hemispheric concerns of the evening. Another overriding problem, narcotics trafficking, came in for the lion's share of official attention, both from Shultz and Betancur.
Shultz, in his after-dinner remarks, even got in a plug for Nancy Reagan's antidrug crusade, which will bring nearly two dozen wives of foreign leaders to Washington later this month. Among them will be Rosa Elena Betancur, who also is leading a campaign against illegal drug use in her country.
Shultz said Mrs. Reagan's conference is "designed to bring in a very special way the views of first ladies from around the world to this problem: the use and abuse of drugs."
To curb the drug problem, Shultz called for extradition of accused drug traffickers, the use of herbicidal eradication and cooperation in promoting regional narcotics programs.
He also commended Betancur's efforts to end "internal conflict" in Colombia after several decades. "You've lent your support to the courageous step of President Duarte to open a dialogue in El Salvador," Shultz said. "We hope that a similar process might be started in Nicaragua."
In his response, delivered in Spanish, Betancur said war has been declared in Colombia against drugs: "I consider it World War III because it destroys not only cities but also our citizens.
"In Colombia, it's said our war against drugs began after Colombia's minister of justice Rodrigo Lara Bonilla was assassinated," Betancur continued, "but we were already engaged in this war before Lara was killed last year . We are all threatened by this diabolical power."
Lara's successor, Enrique Parejo, was one of several ministers in Betancur's entourage for the three-day official working visit here. Parejo said he hadn't had time to think about being frightened since he took the job.
"The more important danger is what it's doing to the morals of the people, not only their health," Parejo said. "The corruption that comes from narcotics is very, very venal and we are risking the loss of our institutions and our stability because trafficking is corrupting everything."
President Reagan's newly nominated ambassador to Bogota', Charles A. Gillespie Jr., said, "The key thing to me is that these countries -- Colombia, Bolivia and the rest -- are beginning to recognize that the problem of drug corruption is not somebody else's."
On a more upbeat note, Gillespie said the "exciting news" out of Colombia is on the energy front. Witness to that was W.J. Deasy, president and chief operating officer of Morrison-Knudsen International, which is developing newly discovered coal caches that will be mined in open pits. And, of course, there was Hammer, who left jet trails around the globe to get here for the dinner.
"Boy, do we!" Hammer said when asked if Occidental Petroleum, which he heads, has oil wells in Colombia. A major oil field was discovered a year ago, and, when fully exploited, is expected to have a potential of 1 billion barrels.
Working with Occidental on the project is Bechtel Petroleum, part of the giant company that gave Shultz to Washington. Representing Bechtel Petroleum at the dinner was its president, John Neerhout, who described being with Shultz in London the day he got the telephone call from the White House asking him to be secretary of state.
"He came out afterward and said, 'Well, I guess I'll have to call Stephen Bechtel and tell him about it,' " Neerhout remembered Shultz telling him.
Last night's guest list included Attorney General Edwin Meese, Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige, Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and Sens. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) and Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.).
U.S. narcotics officials included Carlton Turner, presidential assistant and director of the Office of Drug Abuse Policy; John C. Lawn, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Ann Wrobleski, deputy assistant secretary for international narcotic matters.
Guests dined in the Thomas Jefferson Room, whose namesake is a hero of Colombia's Betancur. He took special notice of the desk on which Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence.