The French word “détente” means a release of tension and this is what occurred at the beginning of the 1970s between the Soviet Union and the United States.
The Cold War stance was very expensive for both countries, and oil prices had soured at the start of the 1970s, with economic problems appearing to show.
President Nixon took the decision to visit Moscow, in May 1972.
The reason for his visit was because he was disliked in America (he was standing for re-election). There were other reasons too – racial equality, and the end of the Vietnam War to name but a few. Therefore he needed the American people to see that he was doing something right, at least with foreign policy.
On May 22, 1972 Nixon became the first U.S. president to visit Moscow.
In the meeting, there were seven agreements which were signed by Nixon and Brezhnev (the Soviet Union’s secretary-general). These included arms control, and prevention of military clashes – meaning a Hot War. Even collaborative research such as space investigation were discussed.
A number of other similar talks happened over the next few years – until 1974 when SALT III (as the talks became to be known) stopped being productive. Cracks were beginning to show between the two countries once more.
Instead, President Jimmy Carter believed in military might as being the best way to have relations with the Soviet Union. This was not liked in Moscow, and the period known as détente was over.