From joint news conference after the Malta Summit, December 3, 1989:
President George H.W. Bush, who entered the White House in January 1989, continued the rapid warming of relations with Gorbachev’s Soviet Union begun under President Reagan. Bush and his very able Secretary of State James Baker both were shrewd realists and diplomatists.
They encouraged Gorbachev’s reforms in the Soviet Union and the civic movements in the Soviet satellites leading to the “velvet revolutions” in the fall of 1989. The fall of the Berlin Wall and Chancellor Kohl’s strong push towards German reunification surprised them as well but they came around quickly to encourage it.
The Bush/Baker team overcame British and French resistance to German reunification. They also negotiated with Gorbachev to allow unified Germany’s accession to NATO and thus initiated NATO’s eastern expansion, later continued by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
The “2 + 4 talks” produced the treaty between West and East Germany and the four occupation powers of September 12, 1990, which served as part of the legal framework for the four powers’ withdrawal.
German reunification came on October 3, 1990. Washington observed the amazing collapse of the Soviet Union and the secession of many new post-Soviet republics. Bush and Gorbachev also continued the arms reduction agenda that Reagan had pursued.