The summits cannot be regarded as self-contained events, each to be assessed on its own achievements. They form part of a whole sequence of international consultations, involving a growing range of intergovernmental organisations. The summits serve to stimulate work in these bodies, to point them in fresh directions and occasionally to promote new institutions.
The London summit picked up strands from earlier summits and wove in new ones. Its great innovation was the meeting with Gorbachev. This marked an abiding concern with the fate of the former Soviet economy, which persists even after Gorbachev has gone and the Union has yielded power to the republics. Elsewhere there are already some good results on trade access for Eastern Europe and debt relief for the poorest. The impact on the Uruguay Round and the Rio Conference has yet to be judged. Summitry is like sex in more ways than that cited by Henry Owen. The full consequences of the act appear only over the months that follow .
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