November 19

This Day in History

Cold War

Nov 19, 1985:

Reagan and Gorbachev hold their first summit meeting

For the first time in eight years, the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States hold a summit conference. Meeting in Geneva, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev produced no earth-shattering agreements. However, the meeting boded well for the future, as the two men engaged in long, personal talks and seemed to develop a sincere and close relationship.
The meeting came as somewhat of a surprise to some in the United States, considering Reagan's often incendiary rhetoric concerning communism and the Soviet Union, but it was in keeping with the president's often stated desire to bring the nuclear arms race under control. For Gorbachev, the meeting was another clear signal of his desire to obtain better relations with the United States so that he could better pursue his domestic reforms.
Little of substance was accomplished. Six agreements were reached, ranging from cultural and scientific exchanges to environmental issues. Both Reagan and Gorbachev, however, expressed satisfaction with the summit, which ended on November 21. The next summit was held in October 1986 in Reykjavik and ended somewhat disastrously, with Reagan's commitment to the Strategic Defense Initiative (the so-called "Star Wars" missile defense system) providing a major obstacle to progress on arms control talks. However, by the time of their third summit in Washington, D.C. in 1987, both sides made concessions in order to achieve agreement on a wide range of arms control issues.

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