Tortuous Path to the Summit

The Geneva meeting follows five years of harsh relations

For Ronald Reagan, the road to his first meeting with a Soviet leader has been bumpy and twisting. Driven by a lifelong visceral anti-Communism, he campaigned for the White House in 1980 by charging that détente was "an illusion" and that the arms-limitation treaty (SALT II) with the Soviet Union was "fatally flawed." At his first presidential press conference on Jan. 29, 1981, Reagan set a chilly tone. The Soviets, he said, "reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat" in pursuit of world domination. Only three months later, the President adopted a pragmatic course that...

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