The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War

By Raymond L. Garthoff | Go to book overview

5
Gorbachev and the Geneva Summit, 1985

THE YEAR 1985 saw two important developments for American-Soviet relations: the accession to power of Mikhail S. Gorbachev in March, and the renewal of highest-level dialogue between the United States and the Soviet Union in the Geneva summit meeting between President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev in November. Of more equivocal significance was the resumption of arms control talks. As the year began, American-Soviet relations were on the course of an unsteady, gradual normalization of relations launched the previous year.


Gradual Normalization

The meeting in Geneva between Secretary George Shultz and Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko on January 7-8 resulted in agreement on a formula for the scope of the planned nuclear and space arms control talks (NST). Three concurrent sets of negotiations would be held, dealing with strategic offensive arms reductions (START), intermediate-range missile forces (INF), and strategic defense and space weapons. The formulation was, in one respect, a diplomatic achievement, but in another sense a mere postponement of difficulties, because it bridged unreconciled real and serious differences between the two sides. It was not until January 27 that agreement was reached to begin the negotiations in Geneva on March 12.

The much advertised January meeting was intended to end a year marked by the absence of arms control negotiation and to resume a broader diplomatic dialogue. There had been intense political, as well as internal bureaucratic, debates in Washington over this step. To allay suspicions, it was decided, on Shultz's recommendation, to send with him not only National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, but also all the key bureaucratic contend-

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