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WASHINGTON, D.C.--Prospects for exchanging students and faculty members between Harvard and Moscow Universities have improved in recent weeks, a State Department spokesman revealed yesterday.
The Department has made no official reply to a proposal, made nearly a month ago by Russian Ambassador Georgi Zaroubin. However, F. T. Merrill, Director of East-West Contacts, stated that the government agrees with the plan "in principle."
Merrill said that no American answer will be announced until all 52 points of the recent Russian note can be dealt with at once. The exchange suggestion is one of the 52, and includes a plan for a similar setup between Columbia and Leningrad Universities.
Merrill also disclosed that the State Department hopes to extend the plan to permit other universities to participate. In Russia only Moscow and Leningrad Universities are open to foreign students, but Merrill hopes that the Russians will agree to send delegations to as many American schools as are equipped to handle them.
The only drawback to such a large program, aside from the language problem, Merrill said, is Russian unwillingness to send small delegations to dispersed places. The Russians prefer large groups, he stated, so that the members can "watch one another."
Harvard has been advocating an exchange program for over a year, but has so far not received any official Russian response and has not been informed of Zaroubin's proposal. Even State Department aide William B. Lacey, through whom the University has been dealing with the Russian Embassy, was unaware of the most recent suggestion.
Harvard had wanted a program under which a few qualified graduate students at the thesis-writing stage and a senior member of the faculty would be exchanged for a year or a term with their Russian equivalents. The professors would probably stay for a shorter period of time than the students and might deliver six or eight lectures.
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