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Eleven hours out of Baltimore's Friendship International Airport, 4½ hours after a refueling touchdown in Iceland, the gleaming Boeing 707 jet transport, emblazoned u.s. AIR FORCE, peacefully cruised eastbound above the sandy beaches of Baltic Latvia toward the heart of the Soviet Union. With Russian officers peering over the shoulders of American pilots, with its distinguished passengers at the windows looking down upon unfamiliar landscape, the jet flew on across the great Russian plain, the jagged pattern of Russian farm fields, an occasional blue lake and great patches of green forest, until it let down through a blur of urban haze for a smooth landing at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport. It was 2:47 p.m. when Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon, fresh in dark grey summer-weight suit and light grey tie, emerged blinking into the sunlight from the forward hatch, followed in a few moments by Wife Pat, by the President's brother, Milton Eisenhower, by the Navy's Atomic Vice Admiral Hyman Rickover and the rest of an official party of 35.

With one sweep of the politician's practiced eye, Nixon sized up the situation: he was clearly getting the cool hello. On hand was a little group of welcomers from the U.S. embassy led by Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson, and the 56 U.S. newsmen who had preceded Nixon by an hour in a record-setting (8 hr. 45 min.), nonstop flight in a new, long-legged Boeing 707 from New York. The face of the Soviet Union was the familiar grin of

Nixon's opposite number, First -Deputy Premier Frol Kozlov, only ten days back from opening the Soviet Exhibition in Manhattan and his tour of the U.S. (TIME,

July 13).

There were handshakes all round, but there was no playing of anthems, no crowd of the kind the U.S.S.R. can muster for a visiting Mongolian. Imperturbably, Nixon read through his short airport speech, drawing extemporaneously on his freshly learned stock of Russian proverbs ("Better to see once than hear a hundred times"). As the party set out for the U.S. embassy, Nixon stopped long enough to shake hands with bystanding Russians in the manner that had served him well through Britain, Asia, Latin America and Africa. But the Russians had not the slightest idea who he was.

Powerful Personification. Yet within what may be remembered as peacetime diplomacy's most amazing 24 hours, Vice President Nixon became the most talked about, best-known and most-effective (if anyone can be effective) Westerner to invade the U.S.S.R. in years. Officially, he was in Moscow to open the fabulous U.S. National Exhibition in Moscow's Sokolniki Park. But Nixon did much more: he gave sharp point to the glittering achievement of the fair because—on Communism's home grounds—he managed in a unique way to personify a national character proud of peaceful accomplishment, sure of its way of life, confident of its power under threat.

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