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The Last Superpower Summits

Svetlana Savranskaya
Thomas Blanton

Chapter 5. The Governors Island summit, 1988

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The last official meeting between President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev—after four spectacular summits that commanded world attention at Geneva 1985, Reykjavik 1986, Washington 1987 and Moscow 1988—took place on an island in New York harbor on December 7, 1988, during the Soviet leader’s trip to deliver his now-famous United Nations speech announcing unilateral arms and troops cuts and—to many observers—declaring the ideological end of the Cold War. This Reagan-Gorbachev finale also marked the beginning of the next series of superpower summits, since President-elect George H.W. Bush participated in both the private lunch and the plenary session at Governors Island, a Coast Guard base chosen for the easy security arrangements.

The most abbreviated of all the summits—cut even shorter than planned by news from Soviet Armenia of a massive earthquake causing thousands of deaths, precipitating Gorbachev’s return—the Governors Island moment also featured the largest gap of all th...

© Central European University Press, 2016

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