Mrs. Thatcher will attend Andropov funeral

LONDON -- Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher will attend the funeral of Soviet President Yuri Andropov in her first official visit to Moscow since she came to power five years ago, her office announced today.

Mrs. Thatcher will be accompanied by Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe, said a statement released by the prime minister's 10 Downing Street office.


Political commentators said Mrs. Thatcher's decision showed a renewed British commitment to improve relations with the Soviet Union.

The announcement came just one week after Mrs. Thatcher's visit to Hungary, her first official trip to a Warsaw Pact nation, where she called for a renewed dialogue to reduce East-West tensions.

The announcement that Mrs. Thatcher would attend the funeral of Andropov, who died Thursday, was released as Vice President George Bush arrived in London for a 28-hour visit en route to Moscow.

President Reagan had been urged to lead the U.S. delegation to dramatize a desire for better relations with the Soviet Union, but sent Bush as the chief American representative.

'The prime minister, accompanied by the foreign and commonwealth secretary, will be attending the funeral of President Andropov in Moscow on Feb. 14,' the Downing Street statement said.


A spokesman said Mrs. Thatcher would probably leave Monday but he would not say how long she planned to stay.

Mrs. Thatcher sent former Foreign Secretary Francis Pym to the funeral of Andropov's predecessor, Leonid Brezhnev, who died in November 1982.

She has never traveled to Moscow on an official visit, but made a brief stop-over in the Soviet capital in 1979.

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