Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Grassroots Diplomacy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Grassroots Diplomacy

Article excerpt

WHEN Nikita Khrushchev visited the US in 1959, he was a rare envoy from a country most Americans saw as distant and forbidding. When Mikhail Gorbachev visited last weekend, thousands of his countrymen had preceded him.

These other Soviet travelers talked with Americans about everything from cooperation in space to the proper running of a volunteer fire department. The results, sometimes, are business deals like Chevron's joint venture in Caspian Sea oil fields and IBM's involvement in bringing computers to Soviet classrooms. Often the result is simply grass-roots good will.

At least 100,000 Soviet citizens are expected to visit the United States this year. Five years ago, according to State Department figures, only 7,600 Soviets made the trip - and for much more tightly defined purposes.

Steps to open up US-Soviet trade and triple air links between the two nations will encourage the flow of travelers. The commerce in insights and know-how should boom. …

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