Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who highlighted his first full day in the United States by joining Ronald Reagan in signing a historic arms treaty, ended it last night at a White House dinner, singing along with pianist Van Cliburn in verse after verse of the old, sentimental Russian drinking song "Moscow Nights."
After the singing -- which a beaming Raisa Gorbachev, Anatoliy Dobrynin, former dean of the diplomatic corps here, and the rest of the Soviet delegation joined in -- Gorbachev burst into applause. Cliburn, a cult figure in Russia, moved toward him and planted three rounds of kisses on his cheeks.
"Tell him to stay around," said Reagan of the Soviet-leader-turned-singer. "I can get him some bookings."
The sing-along came at the end of an evening guests described as moving and good-natured. Amid white orchids and tulips, guests ate salmon in caviar sauce and veal in champagne, went through a receiving line that slowed the evening down by an unexpected 25 minutes due at least in part to Raisa Gorbachev's desire to talk at length to the guests, and quizzed the Soviet leader during dinner on the inner workings of the Politburo. Asked if Gorbachev had any questions of his own, one who sat at the table said he didn't. "We didn't give him time."
"A boundless world stretches far and wide beyond the walls of this house, and you and I, if you will, are accountable to it and to the peoples of our two countries, to our allies and friends, and to all our contemporaries," Gorbachev said to Reagan in his toast. Back at his table, he made sure to clink his glass against that of arms hardliner Richard Perle, the former assistant secretary of defense with whom he also spent some of the evening discussing the treaty negotiations.
Gorbachev and Perle, with Rep. Richard Cheney (R-Wyo.) sitting between them, also talked about the Soviet economy, glasnost and defense spending. Said Perle: "I don't think either of us persuaded the other, but he's an intelligent man."
The guest list provided for tables that seemed pure Americana. At one, for example, sat financier David Rockefeller, gymnast Mary Lou Retton (whose feet did not touch the floor), evangelist Billy Graham and actress Claudette Colbert. At one point, singer Pearl Bailey, who insisted the guards announce her to the press as simply "Pearl," bent down between Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev during the meal for a chat.
In his toast, Reagan, surely reveling in understatement, began with, "In our public statements and in our meetings together, Mr. General Secretary, we've always paid each other the compliment of candor. So let us continue to do so ...
"Already, by virtue of hard work and hard bargaining, we've accomplished much, and our negotiators deserve great credit. But we cannot afford to rest," he said. "There is more work to be done, and time and history are marching on.
"So I offer a toast, a commitment on behalf of the American people of seriousness, goodwill, and hope for the future," he said, and concluded with the words na vasha zdoroviya -- "to your health" in Russian, a gesture that met with immediate applause and laughter from the Soviet party.
As they arrived, some of the guests were less willing to pay the compliment of candor. Among those eager to remain off the record, the methods of avoidance varied.
Jack Matlock, U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, offered up, "It's been a good week," and when asked for more specifics added, "We signed a treaty!"
Perle would give no opinion about the summit other than "Fine -- a wonderful occasion." Former U.N. ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick chose the ever-popular quick walk-through, passing the assembled press corps without a word, as did State Department counselor Max Kampelman. Current U.N. Ambassador Vernon Walters pleaded ignorance on all questions. "I'm just a visitor from New York," he said. To a query about discussions on Afghanistan, he replied, "See Shultz."
National Symphony Orchestra Music Director Mstislav Rostropovich said he had flown in from Germany on the Concorde to attend the dinner with his wife Galina Vishnevskaya and would be flying back to Paris today. Vishnevskaya has written a book that is less than complimentary about the Soviet government, but both were wary of making any judgment on the regime's current leader. "Maybe he's read my book," she said, smiling. "You know," he said, "we have not experienced Mr. Gorbachev. We left 13 years ago. Gorbachev is trying to change some things in the government of Russia -- we have to see how successful the change is."
After the dinner, arms negotiator Ed Rowny said this time he saw a different Gorbachev than the one in previous encounters. "He's not lecturing us on Marxism-Leninism the way he did the first time. He's got a broader viewpoint. He's learning more about America." Rowney also said it was too early to get any indication from the Soviets about their position on the ABM treaty. "We've got big differences to overcome yet."
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Kenneth Duberstein said it had been a good day and he thought the mood good, too. "I think they'll get into details starting tomorrow. But the preamble certainly has been good."
White House Majority leader James Wright called it "an upbeat evening with a joyous kind of crowd" and said Dobrynin, now secretary of the Soviet Central Committee, was "very positive -- he thought this would be a first step leading to other treaties, including ones controlling conventional weapons. I'm going to talk to him tomorrow along those lines."
Armand Hammer, who speaks Russian fluently from his years of trading with the Soviets, judged the evening "tremendous." "Nothing can compare," he said, adding that when he first saw Gorbachev at the dinner, he hugged and kissed him in the Russian manner. "He joked, 'I would sit with you, but I have to sit with the president.' "
In response to a reporter's question, Reagan himself said that he hadn't thought very much about the day being "the most memorable" in his life. "But it will still be one I'll remember for a long time." He said he will work toward a new agreement to follow the INF treaty because "I figure you work right down to the last day."
The evening had begun earlier than most state dinners in an attempt to speed things along. Vice President George Bush and his wife Barbara and Secretary of State George Shultz and his wife Helena arrived early, greeting several members of the Soviet delegation at the South Portico. After they had entered the White House, a workman came out for one last sweep of the red carpet. But the Gorbachevs didn't arrive until 10 minutes after they were scheduled. The Reagans were waiting inside where it was warm, and when Gorbachev's car pulled up they stepped out onto the still-immaculate red carpet.
The evening's big question -- Would Gorbachev wear black tie? -- was answered the moment he stepped out of his Zil limousine. He opted instead for a three-piece blue suit and striped tie. Reports that he had ordered a variety of new clothes from an Italian tailor seemed to be verified by the suit; Soviet observers say a three-piece outfit is rare in that country. Even the shoes appeared to be new.
Mrs. Gorbachev wore an ankle-length, form-fitting black brocade dress with a peplum bodice and a flared hemline, with a long double strand of pearls and a pearl bracelet. Over it all, she wore a gray fur jacket.
Like her counterpart, Mrs. Reagan was also in black, hers of glittering beads designed by Galanos and accented with red and white beaded flowers, a jeweled neckline and a big bow at the waist. Reagan also wore black, accented by a white shirt and black tie.
Lining up for the first of a number of pictures throughout the evening, Reagan was asked whether old enemies were becoming new friends.
"No, they're old friends," he called out.
At dinner, according to James Billington, the librarian of Congress who spoke to Gorbachev in Russian, "there was lots of good back and forth" between the Soviet leader and others at Mrs. Reagan's table.
Asked how Gorbachev was as a dinner partner, the first lady said that among other things he told her a story about the stages of a woman. "There's a young girl, then there's a young woman, a young woman, a young woman ... and a dead grandmother," Mrs. Reagan said he told her. Asked if she laughed, the first lady laughed.
At the same table, author Cynthia Helms noted that Gorbachev seemed to enjoy the food as much as the conversation. "He ate everything but the salad," she said.
The president acknowledged later that he calls Gorbachev "Mikhail" and that the Soviet leader calls him "Ron." "We have been since Geneva. It makes it better that way."
Also among the guests was former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger, who resigned recently, saying he wanted to spend more time with his wife Jane, who is suffering from cancer. Mrs. Weinberger attended the dinner in a wheelchair.
Others attending included another old Hollywood friend (Jimmy Stewart), more sports figures (Chris Evert, Meadowlark Lemon, Joe DiMaggio) a Nancy Reagan favorite (interior designer Ted Graber), a Jewish leader (Kenneth Bialkin, former chairman of the National Anti-Defamation League), a couple of former national security advisers (Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski) and a full sampling of conservatives, including scientist Edward Teller (known as the "father of the H-bomb") and columnist George Will.
Asked why he had been invited, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said, "Because I worked like hell on that damn treaty, that's why." Tugging at his neckwear, Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd said that when he met the Gorbachevs, "I'm going to tell them the Soviets are right about these black ties."
DiMaggio admitted he thought the Soviet guests might not know much about baseball, but he was obviously relying on them having enough knowledge to understand one tradition -- he had brought with him a ball for Gorbachev to sign.
National Gallery Director J. Carter Brown, who will be hosting Mrs. Gorbachev for a visit of the gallery today, said, "We have a lovely tour worked out for her. She's asked to see mainly American art."
Informed that he was filling the spot the White House usually reserves for literary and cultural figures at state dinners, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Saul Bellow said, "I'm as good as anyone to fill the cultural role. I've got culture all over me." He said he had no particular message to convey to the Soviet leader: "I'm just an innocent cultural bystander."
House Minority Leader Robert Michel said, "I think it's a great day for the country." While he said he has reservations, the treaty in general satisfies him. "Why have we been spending billions of dollars to build up our defenses if we weren't going to reach some amicable agreement?" he asked.
Kathleen Sullivan, who recently began work as coanchor on the "CBS This Morning," speculated about the reasons behind her invitation. "I did work in the Soviet Union for 3 1/2 weeks, and I did do the Soviet games, but that's all I know."
The two couples exchanged a number of gifts. The Reagans gave the Gorbachevs a photograph of themselves that the White House described as "personally inscribed," a sterling silver Tiffany bowl and Steuben candlesticks. The Gorbachevs reciprocated with an embroidered leather saddle and a case of caviar for him, a crystal serving set and assorted chocolates for her.
As the White House release put it, the United States of America gave the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics a limited edition porcelain sculpture by Boehm entitled "Global Peace." The host country received a "polished stone centerpiece on a base."
And, no doubt to the delight of the executives of Parker Pen, both leaders received the sterling silver pens engraved with their signatures that they had used earlier in the day to sign the INF treaty.
As the dinner began, protesters gathered across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park and could be heard from the front steps of the executive mansion, chanting: "Nyet, nyet, Soviet!" The protesters, however, had little effect on the central guests who arrived through the entrance on the other side of the building.
Toasts were made with a specially bottled California sparkling wine. The Reagans had the same Iron Horse 1984 Brut, which is not available commercially, for the U.S. dinner at the 1985 U.S.-Soviet summit in Geneva and asked that it be prepared again. The wine is bottled at a small family-owned winery near the Russian River in Sonoma County, an area where many Russians first settled in the early 1800s.
Referring in his toast to his New Year's Eve address to America, in which he said he hoped "the winter of our discontent" would one day be over, Gorbachev said, "Today, following Reykjavik and the extensive preparatory work that has made our meeting in Washington possible, it can be said the winter is on the wane."
Interpreters were between the Reagans and their honored guests at each table:
Reagan sat next to Raisa Gorbachev and Kirkpatrick at a table that included Mrs. Gorbachev's other dinner partner Vernon Walters, Teller, Ford Chairman Donald Petersen and Shirley Crowe, wife of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Ruth Bunche, widow of Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche.
On either side of Mrs. Reagan were Gorbachev and Perle.
Here is the list of guests to last night's state dinner:
President Reagan and Nancy Reagan
Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and Raisa Gorbachev
Eduard Shevardnadze, minister of foreign affairs and Politburo member
Alexander Yakovlev, Politburo member and secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee
Anatoliy Dobrynin, secretary of the Central Committee
Vladimir Kamentsev, deputy chairman, Soviet Council of Ministers
Sergei Akhromeev, chief of general staff, Soviet armed forces, first deputy minister of defense, marshal of the Soviet Union
Anatoly Chernyaev, senior assistant to the general secretary
Valery Boldin, head of the general department of the Central Committee
Nikolay Kruchina, chief administrator of the Central Committee
Alexander Bessmertnykh, deputy minister for foreign affairs of the Soviet Union
Yuri Dubinin, ambassador to the United States, and Liana Dubinin
Georgy Arbatov, director, U.S.A. and Canada Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.
Dwayne O. Andreas, chairman and CEO, Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., and Inez Andreas
Pearl Bailey, singer, and Louis Bellson, musician-drummer
Howard H. Baker Jr., chief of staff to the president, and daughter Cissy Baker
James A. Baker III, secretary of the treasury, and Susan Baker
Saul Bellow, author, and Janis Freedman
Kenneth Bialkin, attorney, and Ann Bialkin
James H. Billington, librarian of Congress, and Marjorie Billington
J. Carter Brown, director, National Gallery of Art
Dave Brubeck, jazz musician, and Iola Brubeck
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser, and Emilie Brzezinski
Vice President George Bush and Barbara Bush
Ruth J. Bunche, widow of Nobel Prize winner Ralph Bunche
Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Irma Byrd
Frank Carlucci, secretary of defense, and Marcia Carlucci
Rep. Dick Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Lynn V. Cheney, chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities
Van Cliburn, pianist, and mother Rildia Bee Cliburn
Claudette Colbert, actress
Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Shirley Crowe
Joe DiMaggio, Hall of Fame baseball player
Sen. Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) and Elizabeth H. Dole, former secretary of transportation
Kenneth M. Duberstein, deputy chief of staff to the president, and Sydney Duberstein
Chris Evert, tennis player
Ted Graber, interior designer
The Rev. Billy Graham and Ruth Graham
Armand Hammer, chairman and CEO, Occidental Petroleum Corp., and Frances Hammer
Richard M. Helms, former CIA director, and Cynthia Helms
John H. Johnson, president and publisher, Johnson Publishing Co., and Eunice Johnson
Robert G. Kaiser, assistant managing editor, national news, The Washington Post, and Hannah Kaiser
Max M. Kampelman, State Department counselor
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, former ambassador to the United Nations, and Evron M. Kirkpatrick, president, Heldref Publications
Henry A. Kissinger, former secretary of state
Meadowlark Lemon, basketball player, and Lorelei Lemon
Suzanne Massie, author-historian, Harvard Russian Research Center
Jack F. Matlock Jr., U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, and Rebecca Matlock
Zubin Mehta, conductor, New York Philharmonic, and Nancy Mehta
Rep. Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) and Corinne Michel
Paul H. Nitze, ambassador at large
Richard N. Perle, former assistant secretary of defense, and Leslie Perle
Donald E. Petersen, chairman and CEO, Ford Motor Co., and Jody Petersen
Lt. Gen. Colin L. Powell, national security adviser, and Alma Powell
Maureen E. Reagan, cochairman, Republican National Committee, and Dennis Revell
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Natalie Rehnquist
Mary Lou Retton, gymnast
Rozanne L. Ridgway, assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs, and Capt. Theodore Deming, U.S. Coast Guard
James D. Robinson III, chairman and CEO, American Express Co., and Linda Robinson
David Rockfeller, chairman, International Advisory Committee, Chase Manhattan Bank, and Margaret Rockfeller
Selwa Roosevelt, U.S. chief of protocol, and Archibald B. Roosevelt Jr.
Mstislav Rostropovich, music director, National Symphony Orchestra, and Galina Vishnevskaya
George P. Shultz, secretary of state, and Helena Shultz
Dimitri K. Simes, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Natasha Simes
Hedrick Smith, correspondent, The New York Times, and Susan Smith
Roger B. Smith, chairman and CEO, General Motors Corp., and Barbara Smith
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Catherine Stevens
James Stewart, actor, and Gloria Stewart
Robert S. Strauss, former chairman, Democratic National Committee, and Helen Strauss
Kathleen Sullivan, CBS anchor, and Michael Kiner, architect-developer
Edward Teller, associate director emeritus, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Vernon A. Walters, U.S. representative to the United Nations
Caspar W. Weinberger, former secretary of defense, and Jane Weinberger
Charles Z. Wick, director, US Information Agency, and Mary Jane Wick
George Will, columnist-author
Rep. James C. Wright, speaker of the House, and Betty Wright.