AUGUSTA, Maine -- Samantha Smith, a 10-year-old who wrote to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov and received a response, said Tuesday she has accepted Andropov's invitation to visit the Soviet Union.
'I plan to go with my parents in July,' said Miss Smith.
'I hope to meet with Mr. Andropov.'
The Soviets have agreed to pay for the trip, said her father, Art Smith. 'No tickets have been bought yet but the possibilities look good. Moscow and Leningrad have both been discussed as possible stops on our itinerary, but they have not settled on anything yet.'
The school girl met with Gov. Joseph E. Brennan Tuesday and spoke before the House and Senate.
Samantha has appeared on TV talk shows in the United States and has been interviewed by Russian television reporters in the three weeks since she received Andropov's letter.
Samantha asked for a major effort on the part of the Soviets to avoid nuclear war. Andropov replied that both the United States and the Soviet Union would work to maintain peace in the world.
'She has accomplished one of the greatest diplomatic coups in recent history,' said Senate President Gerard P. Conley. 'She has achieved something even the most experienced diplomats have failed to do in almost 30 years -- she established communications between the United States and the Soviet Union based on honesty and trust.'
During a speech before the Senate, a slightly nervous Samantha said she was 'proud to have been born in Maine.' She then quickly retreated to her parents, who were sitting at the back of the Senate.
'I think it's safe to say Samantha ranks as one of the most popular Maine citizens in recent history,' said Conley. 'She's far more popular than the rest of us put together.'