Jimmy CarterThe President met December 17 with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom. Prime Minister Thatcher is making an official visit to the United States, her first to this country as Prime Minister.
The President and the Prime Minister reviewed the exceptionally close relations between their two countries and discussed a number of key world issues which are of particular concern to both. These included the Iran crisis, the Rhodesia settlement, Middle East, Northern Ireland, theater nuclear force modernization and arms control, strategic cooperation, SALT, the Comprehensive Test Ban talks, international economic issues and energy, common approaches to the Caribbean and aid to developing countries, trans-Atlantic defense trade, and bilateral economic and commercial issues.
The President expressed his appreciation and that of the entire American people for the United Kingdom's assistance and support in connection with the international effort to secure release of American hostages held by Iran in defiance of universally accepted standards of decency and law. The President and the Prime Minister agreed that the principle of civilized behavior and the rule of law, vital to the whole world community, is at stake in the present crisis. The Prime Minister made it clear that Britain shared the anguish of America and would do its utmost to convince the Iranian authorities to release all the hostages unharmed.
The President congratulated the Prime Minister on her government's vigorous role in the Lancaster House negotiations and the potential these have for contributing to peace and stability in Southern Africa. The Prime Minister expressed warm appreciation for the full support of the United States for an all-party solution to outstanding issues and its readiness to promote further progress in Rhodesia towards a fully democratic independent state within the framework of the arrangements agreed upon by the parties directly concerned.
The Prime Minister explained the British Government's recent political initiative in proposing a conference of the principal political parties in Northern Ireland with the aim of finding an acceptable way of giving the people of Northern Ireland more responsibility for their own affairs. Both leaders condemned support for organizations and individuals engaged directly or indirectly in campaigns of violence and agreed that such campaigns only delay the day when peace and reconciliation can come to Northern Ireland. The President reaffirmed U.S. policy concerning the tragic problem of Northern Ireland as set forth in his statement of August, 1977.
In security matters directly affecting their two countries, the President and the Prime Minister (1) applauded the decision taken last week by NATO governments to proceed with effective modernization and deployment of theater nuclear forces, and with arms control proposals designed to reduce, on a basis of equality, nuclear weapons of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact; (2) agreed that the earliest possible ratification of the SALT II Treaty would significantly contribute to a safer and more stable international security environment. [end p1] The President and Prime Minister agreed on the importance of maintaining a credible British strategic deterrent force and U.S./U.K. strategic cooperation. The leaders agreed that their governments should continue their discussions of the most appropriate means of achieving these objectives for the future. In this connection the President and Prime Minister discussed the importance of increased efforts to strengthen NATO's defenses, both nuclear and conventional. The President reviewed the new U.S. Five-Year Defense Plan, noting that in order to carry out that plan the U.S. will be increasing defense spending, in real terms, steadily over the next five years. The President and Prime Minister reaffirmed their strong support for the NATO Long-Term Defense Program and for the NATO aim of three percent real growth in annual defense spending. The Prime Minister noted plans for further significant increases in the U.K. defense budget to improve the effectiveness of United Kingdom conventional forces, including provision of modernized equipment and reserves. The Prime Minister agreed that it was essential for America's European Allies to share equitably in any collective defense build-up to meet the needs of the common defense.
During her visit to the U.S., the Prime Minister is also meeting with Secretary of Defense Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Jones, and other senior defense officials; members of Congress; Chairman Volcker of the Federal Reserve Board; U.N. Secretary-General Waldheim, and the President of the U.N. General Assembly.
Prime Minister Thatcher invited the President to visit the United Kingdom at a mutually agreeable date, and the President accepted the invitation with pleasure.