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Baker Nets New Friends but No Fish in Siberia

BEHIND THE WHEEL / ACURA NSX

August 01, 1990|PAUL DEAN | From Reuters and TIMES STAFF WRITER

LISTVYANKAN, Soviet Union — Secretary of State James A. Baker III netted new Siberian friends for America today with little more than a handshake, but fish from Lake Baikal refused to take his bait.

Home advantage was apparent as Baker took to Lake Baikal with his Soviet counterpart, Eduard A. Shevardnadze, in a break from two days of weighty superpower talks.

The secretary of state came home empty-handed. But Shevardnadze landed two, restoring Soviet pride lost last year during a similar outing in the United States.

Baker, an expert fisherman, took Shevardnadze fishing for trout in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The score on that occasion was three fish for the United States and none for the Soviet Union.

Back on the dock, Baker and Shevardnadze plunged into a crowd of about 200 people who pressed forward to shake hands with Baker and wish him well.

"I love Siberia. I love Siberia," Baker told them.

The crowd responded warmly and urged Baker to come back again, prompting Shevardnadze to comment that the secretary of state was a better-known personality in this part of Russia than most Soviet ministers.

Shevardnadze had promised Baker a glimpse of the scenic side of the Soviet Union after the Jackson Hole meeting last September.

He did not disappoint, escorting his guest for a 90-minute ride up the Angara River to Lake Baikal.

While the ministers and their wives peered out the front of the boat at wooded cliffs plunging down to the lake, Shevardnadze's 14-year-old granddaughter Sophie was making friends with Baker's aides.

She was soon laughing and giggling with Baker's personal secretary and the two ended the trip testing their strength with a bout of arm wrestling--another victory for the Soviet Union.

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