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1985: Superpowers aim for 'safer world'

The Geneva summit has ended in optimism but with no agreement on the "Star Wars" space defence system.

Both United States President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev spoke of the world being a "safer place" at the end of their two-day meeting in Switzerland.

The two men broke with convention and met together without advisers in discussions President Reagan dubbed the "fireside summit".

The negotiations have resulted in the Geneva Accord, which commits the two countries to:

New rapport

It is the first time the world's superpowers have met for six years and both countries have pledged to convene again in Washington and Moscow.

A news blackout placed on the proceedings was finally lifted when the leaders spoke at the closing ceremony and at separate news conferences afterwards.

Mr Reagan has remained firm in his refusal to stop research in the "necessary defence" of the Star Wars programme, despite the Soviet president saying the door should be "firmly shut" on weapons in space.

But both leaders were optimistic a new rapport between the old enemies had been reached.

"I came to Geneva to seek a fresh start in relations between the United States and the Soviet Union - and we have done this," President Reagan said.

And Mr Gorbachev told reporters at a news conference they should move away from confrontation.

"I would be so bold as to state that despite the fact there is as much weaponry as before, the world is nevertheless a safer place," he said.

In Context
In December 1987 the US and USSR signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty - the first ever agreement to reduce the total number of nuclear arms since their invention.

It was followed by further accords in 1991, 1993 and 2002, which all reduced the numbers of nuclear warheads.

The Strategic Defence Initiative - Star Wars - was abandoned by President Bill Clinton in 1993 amid allegations test results had been falsified.

The programme was resurrected by President George W Bush in 2002 as the Ground-based Midcourse Defence (GMD) Test Bed.


Web Links
BBC News Online on the US missile defence programme
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