MOSCOW -- Former president Richard Nixon turned to sightseeing Monday when an official he was to have visited went to Hanoi to attend the funeral of Vietnamese leader Le Duan.
A Western diplomat who is in touch with the Nixon party said the former president spent the morning sightseeing and visiting markets where farmers are allowed to sell their produce privately -- a rare examples of legal private enterprise.
The president, who resigned in disgrace during the Watergate scandal but is remembered in the Soviet Union for opening the way to detente, was recognized by a number of people as he walked about, the diplomat said.
The farmers gave Nixon fruit, vegetables and flowers, and requested autographs from the man who was last in Peking in 1974, the diplomat said.
Nixon's schedule was disrupted by the death of Vietnamese leader Le Duan on Thursday. The Soviet delegation to the funeral Tuesday in Hanoi included Anatoly Dobrynin, the chief foreign policy adviser who Nixon was expected to meet.
The meeting with Dobrynin was believed preliminary to a meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. A spokesman for Nixon said only the Dobrynin meeting had been requested.
Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev signed the SALT I arms limitation treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, setting the tone for the warmer superpower relations of the 1970s.
The visit comes as the Soviet Union and the United States are attempting to arrange a second summit between Gorbachev and President Reagan.