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Soviet Visitors Get Heaping Of Texas Hospitality

March 9, 1985

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ The highest-ranking Soviet delegation to tour the United States since 1972 spent Friday in Texas eating enchiladas and talking arms control.

The Soviets left Austin with cowboy hats and boots provided by their hosts after their lunch at the Lyndon Baines Johnson presidential library.

Vladimir Shcherbitsky and his 40-member delegation stopped at the Texas Capitol for a meeting with Gov. Mark White before flying to Dallas for shopping at Neiman-Marcus and an evening at Billy Bob’s Texas, a Fort Worth night club.

Shcherbitsky is chief of the Communist Party in the Ukraine, and a member of the 12-member Politburo, the highest political body in the Soviet Union.

Other high-ranking Soviet officials have visited the United States, including Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko last year. But Shcherbitsky’s group is the first in recent years to visit places outside Washington and New York.

″Texas is a state of warm hospitality, good-looking women and hot food,″ U.S. Rep. Jake Pickle, a Democrat, told the Soviets at lunch at the LBJ Library.

The menu featured enchiladas, guacamole and pralines. Jalapeno peppers might have helped get their attention, Pickle suggested, noting that U.S. officials sometimes have trouble getting through to Soviet officials.

After the Soviets met with White, Shcherbitsky flashed the University of Texas ″Hook ’em Horns″ sign at reporters.

Through an interpreter, he talked with reporters about the Geneva arms talks that begin Tuesday.

″It is our profound conviction that the road to better cooperation and better understanding between different nations - the road to security - passes through political dialogue,″ he said.

″It is with impatience and high hopes that the entire mankind is looking forward to the beginning of negotiations that are to begin in Geneva,″ Shcherbitsky added, saying the Soviets do not seek military superiority.

″Such a policy cannot bring about good results. Such a policy can only lead into a dead end,″ he said. The Soviets met with President Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz in Washington on Thursday.

The visitors lingered at a museum display about the 1967 meeting between President Johnson and Soviet leader Alexei Kosygin. Shcherbitsky and Anatoly Dobrynin, Soviet ambassador to the United States and a member of the visiting delegation, were at that meeting in Glassboro, N.J.

White said the longest conversation during his private meeting with the Soviets concerned the plight of Jews in the Soviet Union. The governor said he told Shcherbitsky that many Americans want the Soviet Union to allow more Jews to leave.

″He spoke about the differences that exist and the reasons for the way in which they operated. He frankly seemed to suggest there were opportunities for emigration at some times and at other times there were not,″ said White.

Pickle told reporters that the Soviets had asked to visit Texas and California.

″I don’t know why they wanted to go to California,″ he said.

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