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Beautiful Day For Mr. Rogers And Soviet Counterpart

November 20, 1987 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood for Mister Rogers and his Soviet television counterpart, Tatiana Vedeneyeva, who worked their ″puppet detente″ on a group of American and Russian youngsters.

″Kids throughout the world are alike,″ Ms. Vedeneyeva, host of a Soviet children’s TV program, said through a translator.

″They like to play, they like to discover something interesting, and of course they want to have their parents love them,″ she said.

Fred Rogers, creator and host of ″Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,″ and Ms. Vedeneyeva, host of ″Good Night, Little Ones,″ are bringing a bit of each other’s worlds to the children of both lands to show them they are different, yet the same.

Rogers, whose program has aired on the Public Broadcasting Service for 20 years and on other networks before that, visited Moscow for two weeks in September and taped an episode of ″Good Night, Little Ones″ with Ms. Vedeneyeva that will air later this year on Soviet TV.

On Monday, Ms. Vedeneyeva is to visit the set of ″Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood″ in Pittsburgh to tape segments that will be used March 7-11 in Rogers’ program.

Each program relies extensively on puppets.

″They call it puppet detente,″ Rogers told Soviet Ambassador Yuri Dubinin before they greeted 30 Soviet and American children invited to the embassy for the occasion.

The children sat attentively, their legs dangling over the seats of their adult-sized chairs, as the Soviet official welcomed them in English.

″Your concerns are the same,″ he said. ″It’s important for you to be friends, friends across the borders.″

The message of the exchange is ″that there are adults all over the world who care about children,″ said Rogers, who wore a conservative suit rather than his trademark cardigan sweater and sneakers but spoke in the low-key manner that marks his style.

Ms. Vedeneyeva speaks only a few words of English and Rogers knows even less Russian, but he said the two can communicate with children of both countries through their actions and those of their puppets.

Fourteen 3- and 4-year-olds were brought from a local day care center to join 16 Soviet children, who recited poems in English, sang in Russian and danced for their young guests.

After the welcoming ceremony and refreshments of soda and cookies, the youngsters crowded around Ms. Vedeneyeva while she entertained them with a puppet she called Stepa, a fuzzy gray bunny.

Ms. Vedeneyeva, who said she has a young son, declined to tell reporters how old she is.

″If they (children) know my true age they might feel more distant from me,″ she said.