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Last Updated: Monday, 22 September, 2003, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
Reagan had 'evil sex' angst
Ronald Reagan
Reagan: Nicknamed "The Great Communicator"

A letter written by Ronald Reagan reveals that the former US president had guilty feelings about sex, even within marriage.

His misgivings, which he said he later laid to rest, are contained in letter to a friend written in 1951, before his second marriage.

It came to light with 1,000 others setting out Mr Reagan's personal views on a range of subjects including free speech and the Cold War.

Mr Reagan was offering consolation to an old friend whose husband had died.

"Even in marriage I had a little guilty feeling about sex, as if the whole thing was tinged with evil," he told the friend.

But Mr Reagan said a "fine old gentleman" had pointed him in the right direction by citing the behaviour of primitive Polynesians.

"These peoples, who are truly children of nature and thus of God, accept physical desire as a natural, normal appetite," he said.

Mr Reagan, who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease, has not made a public appearance in a decade.

Letter to Brezhnev

The former president, who boosted military spending and branded the Soviet Union as an "evil empire," is credited with having paved the way for the fall of communism.

But in a personal letter to Brezhnev at the height of the Cold War, he asked: "Is it possible that we have let ideology, political and economical philosophy and government policies keep us from considering the very real, everyday problems of the people we represent?"

After a summit in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik in 1986, Mr Reagan appeared frustrated that Moscow did not believe the Star Wars programme could be shared between the two Cold War rivals, in return for nuclear arms reductions.

"I have never entertained a thought that SDI (Strategic Defence Initiative) could be a bargaining chip," he wrote.

He said he had told Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that "if and when we had such a system... we'd share such a defence with them".

"I don't think he believes me," he added.

Commenting on the letters, former US First Lady Nancy Reagan said: "I hope they see the charm, the humour, the intelligence, the wise man that he is".

The letters were discovered by author Kiron K Skinner, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, while she was researching a book on the Cold War.

They appear in a book Reagan: A Life in Letters, which is being released on Tuesday. Excerpts are also being published in Time magazine.

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