Americans Gather To Plan ‘Peace Walk’ In Soviet Union
WASHINGTON (AP) _ About 200 Americans from 30 states converged on Washington Monday to prepare for a 2,000-mile ″peace walk″ in the Soviet Union to dramatize a call for ending the superpower arms race, organizers said.
The walkers plan to fly to Moscow on Thursday and begin their march in Odessa, on the Black Sea coast, on Saturday, said Allan Affeldt, president of International Peace Walk, a Washington-based peace group that has organized the project.
The Americans are to be joined in Odessa by about 200 Soviet citizens, and the two groups plan to walk together back to Moscow, stopping first in Kiev, in the Ukraine. The Americans are to fly back to Washington on Sept. 15, Affeldt said.
He said the Soviet government placed no restrictions on the walkers’ activities, which will include visits to Soviet homes, public meetings on political and social topics and brief stops at Soviet farms to help with the harvest.
Affeldt said the event would mark the largest number of Americans ever to travel together in a Soviet republic other than Russia. Their ages range from pre-teens to mid-70s, he said.
The aim of the walk, he said, was to improve understanding between Soviet and American citizens and erode the distrust that has helped perpetuate the arms race.
″We’re being citizen diplomats, making our statement in as dramatic a way as possible,″ Affeldt said in a telephone interview.
The trip’s costs are to be borne partly by the walkers and partly by Affeldt’s organization, which gets its money from private donations and grants, he said.