The May 1972 summit in Moscow between Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev was a watershed in the East-West conflict, being the first time a US president had visited the Soviet Union. The two men had built their careers as antagonists toward the rival superpower, yet they now reached beyond confrontation to conclude accords on strategic arms limitation (SALT), ballistic missile defence, cultural and technological exchange, and also basic principles upon which to conduct their relations. Moscow was never designed to end the Cold War, but to regulate superpower interaction. It thus provided only a temporary respite. Both sides walked away with important gains but failed to secure a compact that would facilitate a long-term amelioration of the superpower competition on mutually acceptable terms. Nevertheless, in freezing certain key areas of the superpower competition, Moscow served as the basis for later developments that would overcome the division of Europe.
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