Gorbachev and his advisers were influenced by “new thinking” – Western European Social Democratic ideas and a general opening to the West. Their new policies of glasnost (transparency) and perestroika (economic restructuring) initiated overdue economic reform and a political opening.
President Reagan now had the negotiable Kremlin leader he needed to do business with and improve U.S. – Soviet relations. Reagan negotiated from
a position of strength both at the Geneva (November 1985) and Reykjavik (October 1986) Summit meetings.
Gorbachev proposed cutting strategic nuclear weapons by 50 percent in Geneva. In Reykjavik they discussed doing away with all strategic nuclear forces. Both times no breakthrough occurred because Reagan insisted on going forward with SDI and building new strategic defenses. But the ice was broken between the two leaders – they personally got along well and met for two more summits in Washington (1987) and Moscow (1988). Strategic arms reduction became the top priority in U.S. – Soviet relations.
PHOTO CREDITS: ALL Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library and Museum.