Reagan, Gorbachev finally meet at Geneva
Finally it has happened. The conservative Republican from Dixon, Ill., is talking with the Marxist-Leninist from Stavropol, Russia.Skip to next paragraph
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President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev held their first day of discussions yesterday, starting with a 64-minute t^ete-`a-t^ete with only their interpreters present. ``We were very businesslike,'' the President commented after the private encounter.
``We must achieve decisions together,'' Soviet journalists quoted Mr. Gorbachev as saying; ``. . . we are very much interdependent.'' ``I agree with this,'' Mr. Reagan is said to have responded.
Later in the day the President had a second, and unexpected, private discussion with the general secretary. After the afternoon plenary meeting, said the White House, Mr. Reagan suggested that he and Mr. Gorbachev walk down to the lake and there, in a pool house, sitting before a fireplace, they talked for 54 minutes.
With the summit meeting now under way, the two sides have imposed a news blackout on the meetings, indicating the leaders at last have gotten down to business in private after months of public sparring aimed at the galleries of domestic and world opinion. Soviet and American spokesmen say no details will be given out until the talks are concluded, perhaps tomorrow.
But in terms of tone the first day of superpower summitry appears to have gone off smoothly. The two sessions of the talks, which were held at the Villa Fleur d'Eau, a lakeside ch^ateau, took place in a good atmosphere, according to Soviet spokesmen. The White House concurred in the judgment.
American officials even avoided making an issue of the 40-minute meeting that Gorbachev had with the Rev. Jesse Jackson yesterday. To many outside observers, the Jackson-Gorbachev get-together was a Soviet propaganda coup.
The morning plenary session dealt with a general review of US-Soviet relations, as seen from each side. In the afternoon meeting the two leaders plunged into the crucial area of arms control.
Despite the intensive preparations for the summit meeting, considerable uncertainty surrounds the outcome. American officials note that this is perhaps the least-planned summit since the first post-World War II summit in 1955.
There have been many reports about what agreements may or may not be concluded here in Geneva. But both sides are stressing the importance of simply beginning a dialogue and trying to put relations on a more stable and constructive basis.
One thing is clear. The summit meeting represents an extraordinary chapter in the career of an American actor and politician with strong anticommunist feelings and a long history of antipathy for the Soviet Union. And it demonstrates again that Mr. Reagan, a blend of dogmatic conservatism and flexible pragmatism, is prepared to test the road of compromise to further his ends.
The President's approach to Moscow has been marked by paradoxes. He came into office a militant anticommunist, a stance that is rooted in his early experience in Hollywood as a labor leader.
During his presidency of the Screen Actors Guild from 1947 to 1952, he fought what he believed was a communist plot to take over the union. In the process he developed a deep suspicion about negotiating with the Soviets and became an advocate of strong US military power.
In the 1950s, while Reagan refused to publicly name communist sympathizers before the House Un-American Activities Committee, he privately provided the names to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.