DIPLOMACY: Barometer Reading: Clear Weather

THE sleek blue and white Soviet IL-62 jet descended circling out of the hazy blue sky, touched down lightly and taxied toward a welcoming band of West German officials led by Chancellor Willy Brandt. Black, gold and red West German flags and red and gold Soviet banners snapped in the breeze as the guard of honor clicked to attention, steel-tipped black boots at the prescribed 45-degree angle. Soviet Party Chief Leonid Brezhnev strode down the steps, shook hands with Brandt and stood at attention as a Bundeswehr band played the two nations' anthems.

It was one of those extraordinary moments...

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