London, Apr 4 (ANI): Former US president Ronald Reagan tried to convert Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to Christianity, a close aide to the late American leader has claimed.
According to biography, The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan, by the former Los Angeles Times reporter James Mann, there was a secret exchange between the two leaders that left at least one official present convinced that Reagan had tried to persuade his counterpart of the existence of God.
Reagan had apparently reached a conviction that Gorbachev was a "closet Christian" after hearing the Soviet leader use the expression "God bless".
Also, advisers told Reagan not to read too much into the expression.
Colin Powell, the national security adviser, told the president:
"Don't see this as an expression of religious faith. It's almost idiomatic. He's not ready to get down on his knees for you."
However, during the final summit meeting in Moscow in 1988, Reagan opened a "pre-planned" debate on God.
Apparently, he took the opportunity he sought when Gorbachev disclosed that he had been baptised into the Russian Orthodox faith by his mother but now had no religious belief.
Later Reagan revealed that his son was also an unbeliever, reports The Telegraph.
"The president concluded that there was one thing he had long yearned to do for his atheist son," according to the declassified minutes of the meeting.
"He wanted to serve his son the perfect gourmet dinner, to have him enjoy the meal, and then to ask him if he believed there was a cook," they added.
After acknowledging the sensitivity level of the conversation, Reagan swore the two American note-takers at the meeting to secrecy.
One of the men recording the conversation, Rudolf Perina, the director of Soviet Affairs at the National Security Council, was sure that Reagan had tried to convert his host.
"Reagan thought he could convert Gorbachev or make him see the light," the author quoted Perina as saying.
However, the second, Thomas Simons, a deputy assistant secretary of state, reckoned that Reagan was trying to deflect Gorbachev from discussion on other issues. (ANI)