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Former Soviet leader Gorbachev: Healing U.S.-Russia relations 'must be done'

Former Soviet leader Gorbachev: Healing U.S.-Russia relations 'must be done'
Then-President Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev stand side by side on the White House lawn on December 7, 1987. UPI Photo/File | License Photo

Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Wednesday that incoming U.S. President Joe Biden should reach out to the Kremlin to improve relations between the United States and Russia.

In an interview with state-run news agency TASS, Gorbachev said the existing relationship is concerning, but also noted that tensions between Washington and Moscow were also high during the Cold War of the 1980s when he and then-President Ronald Reagan were in office.

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"The current condition of relations between Russia and the United States is a great concern," he said. "Unfortunately, this is a hard fact. But this also means that something has to be done about it in order to normalize relations."

The pair, who met several times during the decade, ultimately signed the most significant arms reduction of the era -- the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty -- to eliminate intermediate-range and shorter-range nuclear missiles.

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"Here and overseas, many people were saying that nothing would work out in relations with the United States," Gorbachev said. "But we resumed the dialogue, met at the highest level -- after a six-year break -- and adopted a joint statement.

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"Moreover, we developed it right there at that summit and formulated our goals and objectives."

"We made a statement about the inadmissibility of a nuclear war, of any war between our countries, and pledged not to seek military superiority," Gorbachev added. "We agreed to intensify contacts at all levels and our exchanges and cooperation. Then, a lot of difficulties arose, but in general we stayed steady on our course."

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In the early 1990s, Gorbachev continued talks with then-President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and signed Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I, which led to the United States and Russia limiting their nuclear capabilities.

"We need to talk to each other to make our intentions and actions clearer," Gorbachev said Wednesday.

U.S.-Russia relations have been icy over the past decade under the administrations of Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Part of the strain has been related to sanctions against Russia for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Trump's behalf.

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