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Samantha floats a wish for peace

By
STEVEN R. REED

YALTA, U.S.S.R. -- On a boat on the Black Sea, with no land in sight, Maine schoolgirl Samantha Smith tossed her special wish for peace overboard in a bottle sealed with red wax.

'Hopefully, we will all have peace for the restof our lives,' said the 11-year-old's message.

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Less than 24 hours after arriving at Artek, the Soviet Union's most prestigious youth camp, Samantha found Sunday that proselytizing for peace is a big part of the Communist Young Pioneer program.

Hundreds of campers labored for hours over their messages pleading for preservation of the planet and an end to the arms race. They stuffed envelopes and bottles, addressing them to leaders of the United States, France and Britain.

Samantha, invited to visit the Soviet Union with her parents after expressing concern over the arms race in a letter to President Yuri Andropov, put her message -- addressed to no one -- inside a bottle.

She sealed it with red wax and after an hour's journey south by boat she tossed it into the Black Sea along with dozens of others from the 200 Artek campers aboard.

The sixth grader then chatted with Natasha Kashirina, 13, from Leningrad. When her mother, Jane Smith, called from an upper deck to get her attention for a photograph, Samantha yelled back, 'C'mon, Mom, we're trying to talk.'

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Samantha, her mother and father, Arthur, flew to the Soviet Union Thursday from their home in Manchester, Maine, after the Communist Party newspaper Pravda published her letter asking Andropov why his country wants war.

Andropov replied in a two-page letter to Samantha that the Soviet Union was for peace, and invited her for a two-week visit to see for herself. There was no word about a possible meeting between Samantha and the ailing Soviet leader.

At a news conference back on shore in Yalta Sunday, Samantha fielded questions with the aplomb she showed on several U.S. television after being invited to the Soviet Union.

But when asked by a Soviet journalist what she would do if she had magical powers, Samantha seemed at a loss before leaning to her father, a college English professor, who whispered into her ear.

'To get rid of the Bomb,' she replied.

Asked what message she would sent to Soviet children through the Young Pioneers, Samantha said, 'One of my hopes is for them not to have to worry about war.'

Samantha was provided a Pioneer uniform of skirt, blouse and cap that lacked only the red scarf that 'signifies devotion to the Communist Party,' as her mother explained it.

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