U.S.-Soviet Summitry

November 1, 1985

Report Outline
Preparations for Meeting
Impact of Past Summits
Issues for Geneva
Special Focus

Preparations for Meeting

Geneva Encounter First in Six Years

The Glacial Silence that has characterized relations between the leaders of the world's two superpowers in the 1980s will be broken later this month when President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev meet in Geneva “at the summit.” Rarely has the prospect of a summit meeting engendered such widespread attention and concern. Hardly a day has passed since Reagan issued his invitation to meet with the new Soviet leader that some new development has not led political figures, academics and commentators to speculate on the chances for success in Geneva.

The Nov. 19–20 encounter will be the first direct dialogue between the leaders of the superpowers since June 1979, when President Jimmy Carter met Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev in Vienna to sign the SALT II treaty setting limits on both countries' strategic arsenals. The Geneva summit will last about 12 hours, eight of them dedicated to substantive dialogue. Despite Reagan's last-minute attempt to give high priority to regional conflicts in which the Soviet Union is involved, arms control will dominate the meeting.

The flurry of diplomatic activity that has preceded this summit reflects the importance attributed to it by both leaders, neither of whom has ever participated in such a high-level U.S.-Soviet meeting. Despite his efforts to play down the significance of the encounter—the White House still refers to the summit as a mere “meeting”—Reagan has made an about-face in going to Geneva. During his first term, he adopted a confrontational tone toward the Soviet Union and dismissed summitry, saying that the Soviets had used past meetings to extract arms control agreements that put the United States at a disadvantage. In any case, said Raymond Garthoff, a former ambassador to Bulgaria and an expert on the Soviet Union, “the Reagan administration's rhetorically confrontational stance has meant that much attention is focused on this summit, in addition to the fact that it is the first in six years.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
U.S.-Soviet Relations
Sep. 14, 1990  The Western Alliance After the Cold War
Feb. 10, 1989  Soviet Trade: In America's Best Interest?
Nov. 01, 1985  U.S.-Soviet Summitry
Jul. 09, 1982  Controlling Scientific Information
May 25, 1973  Trends in U.S.-Soviet Relations
Apr. 05, 1972  Russia's Diplomatic Offensive
Feb. 09, 1972  Trading with Communist Nations
Mar. 10, 1971  Indian Ocean Policy
Apr. 21, 1965  Negotiations with Communists
Nov. 13, 1963  Scientific Cooperation with the Soviet Union
Oct. 03, 1963  Trade with the Communists
Sep. 11, 1963  Non-Aggression Pacts and Surprise Attack
Oct. 11, 1961  East-West Negotiations
Mar. 29, 1961  Russia and United Nations
Aug. 10, 1960  Challenged Monroe Doctrine
Sep. 02, 1959  American-Soviet Trade
Jul. 03, 1959  Cultural Exchanges with Soviet Russia
Aug. 11, 1958  Conference Diplomacy
Jul. 23, 1958  Limited War
May 14, 1958  Cold War Propaganda
Feb. 26, 1958  Military Disengagement
Feb. 20, 1957  Indirect Aggression
Jul. 25, 1956  Trading with Communists
Jan. 11, 1956  Economic Cold War
Nov. 26, 1954  Peaceful Coexistence
Dec. 01, 1953  Tests of Allied Unity
Sep. 18, 1953  Negotiating with the Reds
Jun. 17, 1953  East-West Trade
Apr. 12, 1951  Non-Military Weapons in Cold-War Offensive
Apr. 20, 1949  Mediterranean Pact and Near East Security
Apr. 28, 1948  Trade with Russia
Sep. 11, 1946  Loyalty in Government
Jul. 31, 1946  Arctic Defenses
Apr. 01, 1943  American and British Relations with Russia
Feb. 24, 1933  Soviet-American Political and Trade Relations
Nov. 03, 1931  Russian-American Relations
Feb. 14, 1924  Russian Trade with the United States
Alliances and Security Agreements
Diplomacy and Diplomats
Regional Political Affairs: Russia and the Former Soviet Union