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Meeting of the Charmers : Strong-Minded 1st Ladies Exchange Wary Greetings

December 08, 1987|Reuters

WASHINGTON — Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev, after exchanging perfunctory handshakes on the White House lawn, discussed the historic sites of Washington today as the battle of the charmers commenced.

The strong-minded and glamorous first ladies, widely reported to have waged a cold war over summitry etiquette, barely looked at each other during the summit opening ceremony while their husbands spoke of peace and good will for mankind.

Mrs. Reagan, who was reportedly riled by her stylish counterpart's last-minute decision to attend the 1986 Reykjavik summit, was irritated again by Raisa Gorbachev's delay in answering an invitation to tea here Wednesday, her aides have said.

But according to Nancy Reagan's press secretary, things went well during their first Washington encounter this morning.

"Mrs. Reagan described the 20-minute visit with the Soviet first lady as very pleasant and found Mrs. Gorbachev very nice," said secretary Elaine Crispen.

Raisa Gorbachev, whose high profile has aroused murmurs of discontent among some in the top echelons of the Soviet Communist hierarchy, appeared on the chilly and cloudy morning dressed in a black Persian lamb coat.

Nancy Reagan greeted her wearing a brown mink.

Mrs. Reagan's secretary said that after the visit inside the White House, which featured coffee, tea, orange juice and small pastries, Mrs. Gorbachev left for a car tour of the capital with Helena Shultz, wife of Secretary of State George P. Shultz.

She traveled first to the Jefferson Memorial on a whirlwind tour of American historic landmarks in the capital city.

"Too little time," Mrs. Gorbachev called out to reporters gathered at the monument, when asked why she was forsaking a shopping trip.

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