America’s President Richard Nixon has arrived in Moscow for talks with Soviet leaders.
He was given a modest welcome as he stepped off the plane at Vnukovo airport with his wife earlier today.
The welcome party consisted of Soviet president Nikolai Podgorny, Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin and Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko.
A twenty-minute ceremony, during which the president briefly inspected a guard of honour, was held and broadcast live by Moscow television.
The national anthems of both countries were played and a carefully selected group of Soviet citizens dutifully, but silently, waved American and Soviet flags.
President Nixon, the first US president to visit Moscow, was said to be surprised that Leonid Brezhnev, general secretary of the Communist Party, was not at the airport.
But Soviet officials said Mr Brezhnev’s absence was according to protocol, as he does not hold a government position.
However, following a high-speed motorcade through Moscow, President Nixon was invited to unscheduled talks with Mr Brezhnev at the Kremlin.
The meeting lasted 105 minutes and, although US officials would not give details, Ronald Ziegler, the White House press secretary, said the two men discussed “international issues”.
Many observers were hoping the war in Vietnam and the nuclear arms race would be high on the agenda.
For the first time in history the stars and stripes flag of America flew over the Grand Palace of the Kremlin to mark the visit.
This evening President Nixon and his wife attended a banquet at the Kremlin. The couple walked along a red carpet and up a 60-step staircase into the Granovit banqueting hall, where the two presidents drank toasts to peace.
There are known differences between the two men on such issues as the war in Vietnam and the Middle East.
President Nixon spoke about the need for co-operation and reciprocation between the two countries in their efforts to conquer disease, improve the environment, and to expand bilateral trade and economic links.
He said he was eager to make the summit a memorable one for its substance.
During his speech he alluded to Vietnam: “We should recognise that it is the responsibility of great powers to influence other nations in conflict or crisis to moderate their behaviour.”
He also spoke of a possible arms agreement which, he said “could begin to turn our countries away from a wasteful and dangerous arms race and towards more production for peace”.
President Podgorny said the Soviet Union wanted not just good but friendly relations with the US.
The US president is due to remain in the Soviet Union until 29 May.
Courtesy BBC News
During the week-long summit several agreements between the two countries were reached.
On 26 May a treaty to halt the nuclear arms race, known as the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (Salt), was signed in the Kremlin by President Nixon and Mr Brezhnev.
The agreement, which was the culmination of nearly three years of talks between the two superpowers limited each superpower to 200 defensive nuclear missiles and froze the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles for the next five years.
An agreement designed to establish more favourable conditions for developing commercial and other economic ties between the USA and the USSR was also reached.
The two countries also agreed to make their first joint manned venture into space in June 1975.
Other agreements relating to incidents at sea, science and technology, health and the environment were also made.
Little progress was made on the Middle East or Vietnam although the two sides did agree to further negotiations on both subjects.