At the Geneva Summit: Less Than Two Lines Devoted to Human Rights in Joint Statement
Menu JTA Search

At the Geneva Summit: Less Than Two Lines Devoted to Human Rights in Joint Statement

The United States and the Soviet Union issued a joint statement this morning at the end of a two-day summit between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev which contained a one-and-a-half line reference to human rights and, by implication, Jewish emigration. The statement said that the two leaders “agreed on the importance of resolving humanitarian cases in the spirit of cooperation.”

American sources here said Reagan and other members of the American delegation raised this subject on several occasions. However Secretary of State George Shultz and other unidentified American officials refused to supply the slightest detailson the human rights issue, causing speculation that the Soviets must have been highly sensitive to this subject.

The only public mention of the issue of Soviet Jewry was during an impromptu 45-minute face-to-face exchange between the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Gorbachev. The militant civil rights leader, who also addressed Gorbachev on a number of other subjects, pressed the reluctant Kremlin chief on the Soviet Jewry issue. Gorbachev responded by noting that “Jews are part of the Soviet people,” that they “are fine people … very talented people” and that “the so-called problem of Jews in the Soviet Union does not exist.”

Leaders of a number of national Jewish organizations in the U.S. praised Jackson for his appeal to Gorbachev and criticized the Soviet leader for obfuscation, evasiveness and deception.


The joint U.S.-USSR statement also said that the two countries recognized “that exchanges of view on regional issues on the expert level have proven useful” and “agreed to continue such exchanges on a regular basis.”

Shultz later said that these meetings will be at expert level but also at the level of the two countries’ Foreign Ministers. Meetings between the Secretary of State and the Soviet Foreign Minister are provided for by the joint statement. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze are expected to hold regular meetings in the future.

Neither Shultz nor Gorbachev, who gave a press conference before leaving for Moscow via Prague, would be more specific on the discussions on regional problems. It is believed that the Middle East was discussed after the subject was raised by the Soviets.

The joint statement also said the two leaders intend to work to “enhance the effectiveness of the treaty (on non-proliferation) inter alia by enlarging its membership.” It is believed that the two parties want to curb the amount of nuclear weapons of countries which have not signed the non-proliferation agreement. The joint statement also stressed the need “to promote the strengthening of the International Atomic Energy Agency and to support the Agency’s activities.” Reagan is to report this evening to Congress on his two-day rounds of talks with Gorbachev during which the two met for close to six hours alone for what the President called, before leaving Geneva, “the fireside summit.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund