Retrospective: This day in 1985, the Geneva Peace Summit: US & USSR Presidents, Reagan & Gorbachev met at His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan’s lakeside chateau

Quiet Diplomacy: The continuous and sustained personal efforts of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan over the past 60 years have played a crucial role in bringing peace and harmony in our fragmented, polarized and shrinking world.

Knowledgeable officials and informed diplomatic sources have always known of the intense background efforts of His Highness the Aga Khan, who devotes much of his time behind the glare of publicity to bring diplomatic breakthroughs igniting hope for durable peace in various regions of the world. His efforts are not only at a global level but extend to regional contexts as varied as the contested region of Kashmir in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, Central Asian states of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, the Sahel and the Middle East- of which Syria has been getting a lot of attention of late.

Occasionally, we encounter evidence (as the one shared below) of Prince Karim Aga Khan’s silent work, a testament of his “quiet diplomacy.” Although the specific details of His Highness’ direct involvement are scarce and unknown, the incidence of the encounter of the two heads of state of the most powerful countries of our time at His Highness’ chateau is a testament of his influence – “soft power” that has had a direct impact to the course of our modern history.

Reagan and Gorbachev meet in Geneva, Nov. 19, 1985

By ANDREW GLASS 11/18/16 11:56 PM EST

On this day in 1985, the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union held a summit conference, which took place in Geneva. President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, began their talks with an hour long exchange of views at Fleur d’Eau (Villa Water Lily), a lakeside chateau owned by the Aga Khan.

After the official photographers had left the room, the two leaders, who had never met, sat in cream-colored leather armchairs before a roaring fireplace; their interpreters were the only other persons present.

11/19/1985: President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev at the Summit in Geneva, Switzerland. (image credit: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum)
11/19/1985: President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev at the Summit in Geneva, Switzerland. (image credit: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum)

In 2000, the U.S. State Department declassified a “memorandum of conversation” that recounted their then-secret conversation from an official American perspective. The memo recounted that Reagan led off by telling Gorbachev that “he approached this meeting with a very deep feeling and hoped that [they] could realize its importance and the unique situation that they were in.”

Reagan noted he and Gorbachev “had come from similar beginnings which were quite different from their current positions. He, Reagan, was born and began his life in a small farming community, and now the two of them were here with the fate of the world in their hands, so to speak. The U.S. and the Soviet Union were the two greatest countries on Earth — the superpowers. They were the only ones who could start World War III, but also the only two countries that could bring peace to the world.”

Read the complete account at:

 


 

Recommended

 

Earlier & Related: Die Quadriga 2005 Prize

Mikhail Gorbachev and His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan

From the Ismailimail archives. Berlin, Germany, 3 October 2005: His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan receives Die Quadriga 2005 Prize. Left to right - Dr Helmut Kohl, former German Chancellor; Mikhail Gorbatschev, former President of the USSR; His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan; William Benjamin Mkapa, President of the Republic of Tanzania. (Image credit: AKDN/Gary Otte)
From the Ismailimail archives. Berlin, Germany, 3 October 2005: His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan receives Die Quadriga 2005 Prize. Left to right – Dr Helmut Kohl, former German Chancellor; Mikhail Gorbatschev, former President of the USSR; His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan; William Benjamin Mkapa, President of the Republic of Tanzania. (Image credit: AKDN/Gary Otte)

 

From the Ismailimail archives. Berlin, Germany, 3 October 2005: President Hamid Karzai of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan presents the "United we Care" award to His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan. The Die Quadriga awards are presented every year on the day of German Unification. (Image credit: AKDN/Gary Otte)
From the Ismailimail archives. Berlin, Germany, 3 October 2005: President Hamid Karzai of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan presents the “United we Care” award to His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan. The Die Quadriga awards are presented every year on the day of German Unification. (Image credit: AKDN/Gary Otte)

“I am unsure where to begin to describe this great citizen of the world.

 

Aga Khan the humanist, the peace-builder, the democrat, the philanthropist or an esteemed ambassador between civilisations.

 

His Highness the Aga Khan is a tireless humanist whose views and beliefs are employed for the service of people and in the true expression of humanity.”

 

– Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s President

introducing His Highness the Aga Khan

 

 

His Highness the Aga Khan (r) and Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union attend the Quadriga Awards 2005 at Komische Oper on October 03, 2005 in Berlin, Germany. (Image credit: Tom Maelsa/Getty Images)
His Highness the Aga Khan (r) and Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union attend the Quadriga Awards 2005 at Komische Oper on October 03, 2005 in Berlin, Germany. (Image credit: Tom Maelsa/Getty Images)

“I am fortunate to lead an

international community with a strong social conscience. Bridging North and South, East and West, the Ismailis have a long tradition of philanthropy, self-reliance and voluntary service.

 

Wherever they live, they faithfully abide by the Quranic ethic of a common humanity and the dignity of man …

 

This is the impulse that drives the Aga Khan Development Network, the AKDN.

 

To understand this dimension of the religious office I hold, one must appreciate that Islam encompasses both the spiritual and the secular. This unity underpins an unrelenting effort towards an equitable order, where the vulnerable are helped to regain the dignity of self-fulfilment.”

 

– His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan,

on receiving the Die Quadriga 2005 Prize


Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali


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