Relations between Nixon and Brezhnev

Relations between Nixon and Brezhnev

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On August 21, at Nixon Presidential Library published the latest installment of the 37 secret recordings from the Oval Office. These 3,000 hours of recordings, along with 140,000 pages of documents are great value, but the highlight is the conversation that took place between Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev on June 16, 1973.

The Soviet leader arrived in Washington that day for an extended visit to the United States, as part of a relations program between the two nations. Nixon visited Moscow the year before, where he spent a week with Brezhnev to sign the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the first Treaty of Talks about the Limitation of Strategic Weapons. The two were mutually agreeable, although Nixon admitted to being surprised by Brezhnev's strong personality: “at times I thought of Dr Jekyll and D. Hyde when Brezhnev, who had been laughing with me and had given me a little flash on the back, started screaming angrily”.

But nevertheless, when Brezhnev showed up the next year it was all smiles. The newly released recording demonstrates his great efforts to get along with Nixon. Brezhnev began to inform Nixon that it was raining when he took off in Moscow. For Brezhnev, this was a good omen, typical of Russian superstition. The fact that it also rained when he landed made it an even better omen, of enormous importance.

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Video: Nixon and Brezhnev