HELSINKI, Finland -- It was hard to believe, watching the two presidents boast about their new cooperation at the United Nations and at their three summit meetings, that it was less than two years ago that the Soviet Union still had an aura of evil for the presidential candidate George Bush.
While their differences became clearer after seven hours of talks at the Presidential Palace, Bush did not seem disappointed. Rather, he seemed swept away by the symbolism of Mikhail S. Gorbachev's smile.
As he tries with phone calls and letters and impromptu summits to draw his fellow leaders into a global club, Bush acts on former Secretary of State Henry Stimson's theory that "the only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him."
He relishes his growing partnership with Gorbachev, which he worked hard to nurture on a ship in Malta and at a horseshoe pit in Camp David, as his greatest triumph in personal diplomacy. He has proudly displayed pictures of himself and Gorbachev playing horseshoes both on Air Force One and in the West Wing corridor.
When Gorbachev mentioned Malta and Camp David yesterday as meetings that allowed the two leaders to develop trust in each other, Bush nodded his head vigorously.
Gorbachev said the two would have found themselves in "a very difficult situation" with Eastern Europe and with Iraq if they had not moved to "enrich our relationship."
"If trust is engendered between the leaders of two such nations during meetings of this kind, that is for the good of all of us, whether we want it or not," Gorbachev said. "History dictates that a lot is going to depend on whether the two countries can work together."
Bush fervently agreed. "Differences still remain," he said. "But the common ground surges ahead of these differences."