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Gorbachev to join Reagan funeral

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CNN's Jill Dougherty on the Reagan-Gorbachev relationship.

CNN's Ed Henry on plans for Reagan's body to lie in state.

CNN's Jeff Greenfield looks at Reagan's use of humor.
Birth: February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois

Married: Jane Wyman 1940-1948, Nancy Davis in 1952

Education: Graduates from Eureka College, Illinois, in 1932

1932-1966: Sports announcer, motion picture and TV actor

1947-1952: President of Screen Actors Guild

1962: Campaigns for Richard Nixon, GOP gubernatorial candidate in California

1967-1975: Governor of California

1976: Loses Republican nomination to Gerald Ford

1980: Elected 40th president, beating Jimmy Carter

March 30, 1981: Assassination attempt

January 11, 1989: Farewell address to the nation

1994: Announces he has Alzheimer's disease

May 16, 2002: Ronald and Nancy Reagan awarded Congressional
Gold Medal
Who was the greatest president?
F.D. Roosevelt
Ronald Reagan
Mikhail Gorbachev
White House

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Mikhail Gorbachev will take part in memorial services for former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, according to an aide for the former Soviet leader most closely associated with the 40th president and the end of the Cold War.

The aide said Gorbachev would fly to Washington from Russia Thursday and attend Friday's funeral at the National Cathedral. Reagan, who died Saturday at his home in Bel Air, California, was 93 and had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for at least a decade.

Gorbachev, who rose to the Soviet Union's top spot in 1985 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, was frequently chided by communists as trying to reform the country too fast and by detractors -- Reagan among them -- as too slowly.

The aide said the former Soviet premier sent a letter of condolence Monday to Reagan's widow, Nancy.

In it, he called the former president "an extraordinary man who, in his long life, saw moments of triumph, who had his ups and downs and experienced the happiness of true love."

Gorbachev also penned an op-ed article that appeared Monday in The New York Times in which he recalled both terms of the Reagan presidency.

The first term, he said, was "dedicated to restoring America's self-confidence" which "was accompanied by confrontational rhetoric toward the Soviet Union and more than rhetoric -- by a number of actions that caused concern both in our country and among many people throughout the world."

"It seems that the most important thing about Reagan was his anti-Communism and his reputation as a hawk who saw the Soviet Union as an 'evil empire,'" Gorbachev wrote. (Gorbachev praises a 'great president')

The second Reagan term, however, "emphasized a different set of goals," Gorbachev wrote.

"I think he understood that it is the peacemakers, above all, who earn a place in history," he wrote.

Summing up Reagan's place in history, Gorbachev said, "While adhering to his convictions, with which one could agree or disagree, he was not dogmatic; he was looking for negotiations and cooperation. And this was the most important thing to me; he had the trust of the American people."

"A true leader, a man of his word and an optimist, he traveled the journey of his life with dignity and faced courageously the cruel disease that darkened his final years. He has earned a place in history and in people's hearts."

Silent tribute

On Monday, opening five days of solemn and sweeping ceremonies, the casket containing Reagan's body was transported by motorcade to his presidential library, where it will lie in repose.

Reagan's widow, children and other members of his family were attended a private service at his presidential library before public viewing began.

Thousands of mourners then made their way past the closed casket in silent tribute to a statesman who stood unapologetically against liberalism at home and Communism abroad during the often tumultuous 1980s.

As they did over the weekend, fond remembrances flowed steadily for the one-time movie actor and governor of California.

"You can agree or disagree with Ronald Reagan's policies, his conservatism," said former presidential advisor David Gergen. "I was less conservative than he was, but if you add it all up, I believe he ranked as the best leader we've had in the White House since Franklin Roosevelt, and that's saying a lot." (Casting a wide shadow in politics)

Reagan will be the 10th former president to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda and the first since Lyndon Johnson in 1973. The only other former president to die during that time, Richard Nixon, was buried in California without any commemorations in Washington after he died in 1994.

Funeral services for Reagan are scheduled for Friday. (Plans for official ceremonies)

Afterward, Reagan will be returned to California, where he will be interred at his presidential library.

Day of mourning

President George W. Bush on Sunday ordered flags lowered to half-staff for 30 days in honor of Reagan.

Bush also called a national day of mourning for Friday. Federal departments and agencies will close for the day, except those dealing with national security or essential services, under an executive order issued by Bush.

"I remember how electrified the crowd became when Ronald Reagan just walked in the room," Bush told NBC's "Dateline" Sunday. "There was something unbelievably charismatic about him. People loved to be in his presence."

"He will be sorely missed. He was a great president," he said.

Bush issued a proclamation saluting Reagan's "unshakable faith in the values of our country and the character of our people."

"Ronald Reagan renewed America's confidence and restored our nation. His optimism, strength and humility epitomized the American spirit," Bush said. "He always told us that for America, the best was yet to come."

Among others paying tribute to Reagan was former President Jimmy Carter, who was defeated for re-election by Reagan in 1980.

"President Reagan was a formidable political campaigner, who provided an inspirational voice to America when our people were searching for a clear message of hope and confidence," Carter said in a statement. (More reaction)

British Prime Minister Tony Blair credited Reagan with influencing U.S. politics and ending a global power struggle with the Soviet Union. (More world reaction)

Nancy Reagan -- in a Time magazine article -- described her late husband as an eternal optimist.

"I think they broke the mold when they made Ronnie," the former first lady wrote. "He was a man of strong principles and integrity. He had absolutely no ego, and he was very comfortable in his own skin; therefore, he didn't feel he ever had to prove anything to anyone." (Reagan obituary)

Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.

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