Former President Nixon will leave for the Soviet Union this week on a private fact-finding visit in which he will meet for the first time with leaders outside of government, his aides said Monday.

The former president, who is credited with reopening ties to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, will leave on Wednesday.The visit will be Nixon's seventh to that country. His first trip was as vice president in 1959, when he and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev engaged in their widely publicized "kitchen debate" at a trade fair in Moscow. His last trip was in 1986.

Unlike previous visits, Nixon will meet this time with leaders both in and out of government, his aides said.

The former president said he was invited by the Institute of World Economy and International Affairs in Moscow, where he plans to hold a series of meetings.

He said that upon his return, he will report any significant findings to President Bush.

Nixon said he is paying his own expenses and those of his four-person entourage.