MOSCOW, AUG. 20 -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta arrived here today and said she would like to send missionaries to the Soviet Union to provide "love and care" as they already do in 77 other countries.
Mother Teresa, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, is in Moscow for a five-day visit as the guest of the Soviet Peace Committee. Her hosts said she will meet with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church and travel to the Ukraine to meet with resettled refugees from last year's nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.
In addition, the 76-year-old nun plans to attend a mass at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Moscow.
"I'm hoping to have sisters come here and serve the people some day, the way we do all over the world," she told reporters on her arrival from London.
She said members of her order, the Missionaries of Charity, do charitable work in several communist countries, including Poland, Cuba and East Germany.
"We serve all people, children of God," she said.
The Soviet Union, which is officially atheist, has not encouraged foreign missionaries, and the religious activities of the Soviet people are strictly regulated. As to the prospects of her missionaries being allowed in, Mother Teresa said:
"If they say yes, I will be happy. If they say no, all right."
A Russian Orthodox priest and two prominent laymen who have asked to meet with Mother Teresa while she is in Moscow said in a statement that Soviet law forbids churches from undertaking the kind of charitable work that she and her followers are doing elsewhere.
All three -- the Rev. Vladimir Shibayev, Alexander Ogorodnikov and Valery Senderov -- said they were delighted to learn that Mother Teresa has come to the Soviet Union.
"At present, there are extensive discussions going on in our country concerning changes in religious legislation," they said in their statement. "We hope that with new legislation our hopes will be fulfilled, and the church will once again be able to carry out charitable work."