From enmity to friendship

Khrushchev and Eisenhower

In 1959, an incredible thing happened: the Soviet leader first arrived in the United States with a friendly visit. Nikita Khrushchev spent nearly two weeks in the States, visiting several cities during that time and meeting with President Dwight David Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon, as well as senators, governors, journalists and a corn farmer.

Khrushchev in the USA, September 1959. Source:

Khrushchev and the American farmer Roswell Garst. Source:

By the way, Khrushchev and Eisenhower have met before: their personal acquaintance took place in 1955 in Geneva. The third meeting of the first persons of the USSR and the USA was supposed to happen, but it collapsed: in May 1960, an American plane was shot down in the vicinity of Sverdlovsk, which led to a sharp cooling of relations between the powers. On the return visit Eisenhower had to forget. However, already in 1961, Khrushchev met with the next president, John F. Kennedy.

Brezhnev and Ford

Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, and Gerald Ford, the President of the United States, met in Vladivostok in November 1974. The result of the negotiations was a Soviet-American statement, according to which the parties pledged to conclude a new agreement on the limitation of strategic weapons, which would be valid until the end of 1985.

Ford and Brezhnev in Vladivostok, 1974. Source: RIA News

At first glance, the meeting made an impression of more than friendly. Leaders of states in an informal setting exchanged gifts - Brezhnev, for example, became the proud owner of Ford's wolf coat, the American president received in return a cap of the Soviet secretary general. However, the United States delegation did not lose vigilance and held meetings on the street for fear of listening devices.

Brezhnev in Ford's wolf coat. Source: kleomen.

The American delegation confers. Source: kleomen.

Gorbachev and Reagan

At the height of perestroika, in May 1988, US President Ronald Reagan visited Moscow on an official visit. This meeting marked a marked warming in relations between states. The American leader bluntly told reporters that he did not consider the USSR an “evil empire,” while Gorbachev asked his overseas colleague to read a lecture on free markets to MSU students.

Bush, Reagan and Gorbachev in the United States, 1988. Source:

In the same year, only in December, Gorbachev returned a visit. In the USA, he was met not only by Reagan, but by the elder Bush’s already elected president by that moment.


The first visit of Nikita Khrushchev in the United States. History reference
Polynov MF Soviet-American relations in the foreign policy of Mikhail S. Gorbachev. 1985−1988
Two days that shook Primorye

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