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Teen-Agers Swap Views, Want To Find Out More About Each Other

October 26, 1986

MOSCOW (AP) _ An exchange of ideas between American and Soviet teen-agers, published in a newspaper Sunday, revealed predictable positions on superpower policies but also indicated the two groups want to know more about each other.

The youth newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda published what it said were almost complete texts of two letters from students in Raleigh, N.C., and Jefferson City, Mo. It also published responses from 20 Moscow teen-agers.

The newspaper did not give the names of the American schools.

The American students wrote to the newspaper in response to a letter Soviet students had sent to Vice President George Bush last year, expressing their opinions about U.S. policies.

″What were the crimes of (dissidents) Anatoly Shcharansky, Andrei Sakharov and Ida Nudel?″ wrote the Jefferson City students.

″They violated the laws of the country of which they are citizens, and were punished for it,″ answered Soviet student Alexander Derbenev.

The Jefferson City students brought up what they called Soviet expansionism in the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania during World War II and in Eastern Europe after the war.

Vladislav Sereda replied with the usual Moscow view that the Baltic lands voted in 1940 to join the Soviet Union and that the Eastern European nations chose to become Soviet allies after 1945.

The American students echoed the Reagan administration in many of their arguments on arms control.

The Raleigh students, for example, said they believed the Soviets are engaged in space weapons research, as President Reagan has charged.

The Raleigh students also defended Reagan’s continued nuclear testing as necessary for ensuring a reliable nuclear defense. This is one of the arguments Washington has used to explain why it will not join the Kremlin’s moratorium on nuclear testing that has been in effect since August 1985.

Both sides said they want to continue their exchange.

″Let’s admit our differences and at the same time begin an open exchange of views,″ said the Raleigh students.

″Young people in the United States share many of the things which worry young people in the Soviet Union and the whole world,″ said the Jefferson City letter. ″Only through knowledge, understanding and respect can our two countries live in harmony.″

Komsomolskaya Pravda said it would send a detailed transcript of the Moscow responses to Jefferson City and Raleigh, and invited its readers to write in and say how they would have answered the Americans.

″Come on, let’s start a dialogue,″ the newspaper said.

Soviet authorities have expressed interest in exchanges with American youngsters since American schoolgirl Samantha Smith visited the Soviet Union at the invitation of then-leader Yuri Andropov in 1983.

U.S. officials who negotiate cultural and other exchanges with the Soviets said they have detected an increased readiness to involve Soviet teen-agers in such exchanges.

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