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28 Aug, 2009 07:01

Corny relations: Iowa celebrates Khrushchev

The American state of Iowa is celebrating the visit 50 years ago of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Inspired by the US corn farming industry, Khrushchev ordered corn to be planted all across the USSR.

Iowans still remember how, back in September 1959, the Soviet leader visited a famous corn farmer, Roswell Garst, in Coon Rapids. And 50 years on, it is Garst’s daughter Rachel who has initiated the celebrations.

On Friday, Khrushchev’s son Sergey, who accompanied his father on the trip and now lives and works in the US, as well as a famous journalist, William Taubman, author of a book about Khrushchev, will make speeches at Drake university in the state capital, De Moines.

Saturday will see a reception in hotel Fort De Moines, where the Soviet leader stayed during his visit. The menu will be an exact replica of what was served during the Soviet leader’s stay back in 1959. US Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa governor, Tom Vilsack, and senior US Senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley, are expected at the party.

Back in the 1950s Roswell Garst, selling corn to the USSR, made friends with Nikita Khrushchev. The farmer visited Khrushchev’s home and in 1959, the Soviet leader paid him a return visit.

Today, Garst’s daughter says that personal contacts give a great opportunity to continue dialogue between the countries. She said that the celebration is a good way to express how Americans appreciate their history of co-operation with Russians.

Khrushchev became the first Soviet leader to pay an official visit to the United States from September 15 to 27, 1959. During his trip, he visited Washington DC, the US president’s residence at Camp David, where he met Dwight Eisenhower, and also the cities of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, De Moines and Pittsburg.

The Soviet leader came to the States with his wife, two daughters, son and son-in-law.