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Schoolgirl Send Gorbacheve Letter of Thanks

January 17, 1986

TOKYO (AP) _ Twelve-year-old Aiko Fukuda has written a second letter to her Soviet pen pal, Mikhail Gorbachev, thanking him for his New Year’s greetings and gifts, her father said Thursday.

Aiko, a sixth-grader in Nagoya, central Japan, first wrote to the Soviet leader in November, urging him to make greater efforts for peace.

In return, she received a large lacquered samovar, a collection of photographs of the Soviet Union, a book in Russian and a recording of Russian folk songs - plus a message from Gorbachev saying he would work for peace.

Aiko’s father, Kazuo, said she wrote in Japanese to thank him for the gifts, and also pledged to study hard to learn Russian and become an interpreter.

Last April, Aiko began studying Russian once a week at Chukyo University, which has a class open to the public.

Aiko told a teacher in the language class about her wish to write the Soviet leader after learning from her father about the Geneva summit between Gorbachev and President Reagan last November. The teacher helped her to translate her letter into Russian.

In 1983, American schoolgirl Samantha Smith of Maine wrote a similar letter to then-Soviet leader Yuri Andropov. She visited the Soviet Union that year at the Soviet government’s invitation. She was killed in a plane crash last summer in the United States, and the Soviet Union recently issued a postage stamp honoring her.