Can we ask you about the news from Washington last night?
Well, I was very pleased, as I indicated because I didn't have these enormous expectations. The fact that they had arranged the summit and were going to have it actually meant that they had to solve the other problems and they were willing to, and so that itself was an achievement. But also I know it would be a great achievement for Mr. Gorbachev to be seen about Washington. You hear about a person, but it isn't till you actually see the personality begins to live, and I knew that would be a great success. And also, you know, when you have two or three days discussing lots of problems, you may not get the breakthrough then, but it contributes to the greater understanding of one another, and it contributes to a greater amount of confidence. And that really is very good, particularly coming up to the start of the new year.
Are you disappointed that there wasn't more progress on strategic weapons?
No, because there's been actually quite a lot already made in Geneva. It isn't easy to verify. Because some of these strategic weapons of the Soviet Union are mobile. They can move them about. You can imagine, even if you're photographing them from overhead, it's jolly difficult if you see a group right up here, whether they were down here or a different group, and it's very very difficult to verify those so they have to make special arrangements. Also, when we go onto chemical weapons which we've been trying to work on for a long time, it would be even more difficult to verify, for after all you make them in two different lots, you can make one at one end of the Soviet Union, and one at the other, then bring them together. And you can almost make them in a garden shed. And that does have its own particular problems of verification. It was a very good conference. They got the Treaty, they got the Treaty signed, they got a little further with strategic weapons, and that would have to go back to Geneva, and they had really good discussions on other things, and all of a sudden the world saw Mr. & Mrs. Gorbachev, and they saw everyone getting on well together. And they really began to [end p1] think that a new period of cooperation, always against the background of secure defence, never let that go, that there were new possibilities opening up.
Do you think the momentum can be kept going? And does Britain have a role to play?
Oh yes, we have had a very considerable role. Mr. Gorbachev came here before he was General Secretary, and then we got on very well together. I think that he was the first Soviet Minister I've ever come across who can debate and discuss easily almost as we do by second nature in the west. We've had years and years of a democratic system. And that's a tremendous advantage. And then you know, to look at that system there. It's now seventy years—to say “We've had seventy years of it and it's not working properly. It's not producing the standard of living, it's not producing the technology we need, it's not producing the social services, that we need. Therefore we're going to start to change it.” That's really bold and courageous. It's all in the direction of people matter more, central planning less and people matter more. That after all is coming very much towards … .
And I did stay up last night because I had a lot of work to do when I got back, and I went on and on and did it, and then some ordinary things for Christmas, and so I stayed up and watched the live broadcast from Washington which came onto our television at 2 o'clock.
What were your feelings as you watched?
Well, I was thrilled by the press conference because I know that Mr. Gorbachev 's a very combative debator, and so am I. And so you recognise similar things in other people, and I thought he handled his press conference superbly, absolutely superbly, and I thought that the [end p2] Ronald ReaganPresident's broadcast which I saw live from Washington was really good, going right back to what freedom is all about. I was very pleased with the whole thing.