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Détente, a French word meaning relaxation, used in a political context means the easing of strained relations between two disagreeing parties. It became widely used in the Cold War to refer to the ‘thawing out’ of the relationship between the US and the Soviet Union. Détente was a policy tool advocated by Dr. Henry Kissinger in the Nixon and Ford administrations as a method of easing tensions during the Cold War and resulted in several significant negotiations and treaties, including the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) and the Helsinki Accords. These agreements led to a reduction in arms by both parties and the Soviet promise to hold free elections in Europe. The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan led to the end of détente between the US and the Soviet Union and a reversion to Cold War tensions.

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