Donald Trump’s positive impressions about his “tremendous” first meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg is a good thing, but concrete steps are now needed to build mutual confidence and trust, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has said.
Gorbachev said the meeting in itself is a positive sign. “The very fact of their meeting says a lot. And even more, some constructive agreements have been reached,” Gorbachev told Russia’s Interfax news agency Saturday.
“The fact that the US President, for his part, gave positive account of the meeting is a good thing,” the last Soviet leader stated. “Trump is not an empty-headed man, he is an unpredictable one. And it is amazing that he speaks about the meeting this way.”
Now, Gorbachev underlined, it’s crucial for both Moscow and Washington to take “concrete steps” towards implementing the agreements reached at the Hamburg meeting. He also urged the leaders to build trust and to re-engage each other.
“[Former US President Ronald] Reagan and I have agreed at our first meeting that a nuclear war is unacceptable and it would see no victors,” he recalled his experience of dealing with the Republican hardliner. “This conclusion required revision of many domestic and foreign policy strategies.”
Gorbachev and Reagan first met in Geneva in 1985 to discuss the protracted arms race as the Soviet Union and the United States sought to drastically reduce its respective nuclear arsenal.
Eventually, the two leaders convened another summit in Reykjavík in 1986. Though the landmark talks stalled at the last minute, both sides managed a slight breakthrough which later resulted in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed between the United States and the Soviet Union.
“If a good chance, [for if reconciliation] goes away, it may never come again; therefore it is time for action,” Gorbachev cautioned. “We need to build and restore trust,” he reiterated.
In the lead up to Hamburg meet, Gorbachev urged Moscow and Washington to restore the international arms control system that would include agreements on the offensive nuclear weapons, missile defense and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
In an interview with the RIA news agency ahead of the G20 summit, he called the restoration of the arms control system a “pressing issue.” He also welcomed the meeting between the two leaders but warned that “a lot of time has been already lost” and pointed that the two countries still “do not have a joint constructive agenda.”
He urged Putin and Trump to establish dialogue on a “whole range of issues and not just some particular aspects.”
Gorbachev believes the whole world is hopeful that Moscow and Washington will be able to build a constructive relationship as people are growing weary of international tensions.