With the superpower summit as a backdrop, relief officials from the United States and Soviet Union on Thursday announced creation of a private volunteer organization to provide medical, environmental and agricultural assistance to developing nations.
Called Operation USA/USSR, the Peace Corps-like project will begin by sending teams of doctors to Mexico, its organizers said at a news conference coinciding with the first day of discussions between President Bush and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
The privately financed project is sponsored by three organizations: Operation USA, an 11-year-old, Los Angeles-based relief group; the Soviet Academy of Sciences, a quasi-governmental agency, and the Soviet Peace Committee, a private organization.
The joint venture was unveiled by Richard Walden, director of Operation USA, and Gennady I. Gerasimov, the Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman.
In the United States, Walden said he will seek funds from corporations doing business in the Soviet Union and in Mexico.
A six-member team of American, Soviet and Mexican doctors, all volunteering a year's service, will be sent to Mexico City to work at a suburban clinic originally set up by Operation USA after the 1985 earthquake. The U.S. physicians will be recruited from UCLA Medical Center, the sponsors said.