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Gorbachev endorses Congressional Gold Medal for Ronald Reagan

March 15, 2000
Web posted at: 6:30 p.m. EST (2330 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is supporting a move by lawmakers to award a Congressional Gold Medal to former President Ronald Reagan, who once referred to the Soviet Union as an "evil empire."

"The award of the Gold Medal of the U.S. Congress to Ronald Reagan is a fitting tribute," Gorbachev wrote in a letter released Wednesday. "Together with Ronald Reagan, we took the first, most important steps to end the Cold War and start real nuclear disarmament."

Gorbachev said Reagan engaged him in an "honest and respectful dialogue" from their first meeting in Geneva, and that their "human rapport" continued after both men had left government.

The letter was released before the House Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, which held a hearing Wednesday on a bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nevada) to honor the former president and first lady, Nancy Reagan, with a Congressional Gold medal.

The bill praises the Reagans "for their distinguished records of public service and dedication to promoting national pride and bettering the quality of life in the United States and around the world."

A panel of longtime Reagan aides and friends also testified before the committee on Wednesday, including former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and Jean Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

About 125 people from all walks of life have received the Congressional Gold Medal since it was first awarded in 1776, including former Presidents George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant, the Wright Brothers and Winston Churchill

Recently authorized Congressional medals include those for Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Frank Sinatra, and Rosa Parks.

Awarding the honor to the former president would be especially timely, as he recently celebrated his 89th birthday and suffers from Alzheimers' disease.

 
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