YALTA, U.S.S.R. -- Two hundred Soviet children paid an emotional farewell Tuesday to their new summer camp friend, American Samantha Smith, who said she hoped their countries would always be friends.
'My stay at Sea Camp at Artek has been wonderful, very wonderful,' said Samantha, 11, reading from notes written by her father. 'I shall miss my new international friends, but we will remain friends across the sea.
'Let our countries be friends too. Someday, I hope to return. I love you, Artek.' Samantha and her parents, Jane and Arthur Smith, were leaving Wednesday for a three-day tour of Leningrad where they were to tour the Winter Palace, the Hermitage and war memorials.
The Smiths will return to Moscow on Saturday. No definite schedule has been set, but Samantha was expected to meet with Andropov before she leaves for home next week.
The Manchester, Maine, schoolgirl's farewell remarks after four days at the Soviet Union's largest Young Pioneers camp were translated simultaneously into Russian and the Soviet children's response also was rendered into English.
'We were together only some days, but every day was a good one,' said an English-speaking Soviet camper. 'Please accept a piece of charred wood from our Artek farewell bonfire in memory of our friendship.'
Samantha was then showered with gifts, including a large costumed Russian doll, a stuffed black bear, a copy of the Young Pioneers newspaper and other presents such as chocolates and flowers.
At times, the Maine schoolgirl seemed near tears, but instead the camping session broke up with hugs and smiles and the Soviet children clustered around her black Volga sedan and said in English, 'Goodbye, Samantha.'
Earlier in the day, the sixth-grader who came to the Soviet Union on a personal peace mission at the invitation of Kremlin leader Yuri Andropov, visited the site where Allied leaders met at the end of World War II.
Samantha wrote to Andropov earlier this year, asking if the Soviet Union wanted to start a nuclear war. The Kremlin chief responded by inviting her to visit and see what Soviet people are really like.
In Washington, Malcolm Toon, ambassador to Moscow from 1976 to 1979, said Andropov's invitation was designed to picture the Soviets as promoters of peace who cannot be blamed for world strife.
He said the Soviets were 'exploiting' Samantha with 'the possible result that we could end up in a confrontation that nobody wants.'
On her last day at Artek, a prestigious scouting camp for Young Pioneers, Samantha and 10 of her new Soviet girlfriends visited Livadia Palace, site of the 1945 Yalta conference among President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Britain and Soviet Premier Josef Stalin.
Samantha and her friends received a police escort to the white stone palace overlooking the Black Sea. Reporters were asked not to follow or question her. Soviet officials said her parents requested that she receive more privacy.
Since her arrival in the Soviet Union on Thursday, Samantha's schedule had been hectic, with each day packed with a variety of activities. 'She's just tired basically,' her mother said Monday.