Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1984 May 31 Th
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for CBS (prospects for London G7 Summit)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Tom Fenton, CBS
Editorial comments: 1200-1300 MT gave interviews to North American networks in the garden at No.10.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1441
Themes: Commonwealth (South Africa), Defence (general), Economy (general discussions), Monetary policy, Energy, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (Americas excluding USA), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA)

Interviewer

Prime Minister, what prompted you to invite Prime Minister Botha of South Africa?

Prime Minister

Prime Minister Botha was making a visit to Europe. It seemed to me very strange he should be doing that and not come to the United Kingdom. After all, Southern Africa was a part of the Commonwealth at one stage and so I invited him to come to Britain. I am pursuing dialogue with a number of countries with whose policies I disagree. It seemed to me quite absurd that I should not meet President Botha—Prime Minister Botha—and so I invited him to come.

Interviewer

Should this be interpreted as a sign of encouragement for South Africa's policies?

Prime Minister

No. No more than my proposal to talk and have greater dialogue with the Soviet Union is a sign of encouragement that I approve their policies. I do not, but I think that we have to have talks with people, even if we disapprove of their policies, and I think that we might perhaps sometimes influence some of them more either to understanding our views and try to influence them towards our views, if we talk to them. We [end p1] cannot if we do not. I disapprove of apartheid. You cannot determine a person's rights by the colour of his skin, but that does not prevent me from talking to Prime Minister Botha and making my views clear.

Interviewer

In the war in the Persian Gulf, is there anything that the West can do to stop these attacks on shipping?

Prime Minister

I think we are doing everything we can. We are doing everything we can by diplomatic means. We are keeping very closely in touch with all of the countries of the Gulf. We are cooperating in the Security Council resolution, and for a long time now we have consulted closely with the United States and also with Europe. So everything that people say should be done is being done in that particular case. What we want, of course, is to enable free movement of shipping in neutral waters up the Gulf.

Interviewer

Diplomacy, however, does not seem to have accomplished anything so far. Are there more concrete measures, such as cutting off arms to the two competitors. Would you like to see France stop selling Exocet missiles to Iraq, for example?

Prime Minister

Well, at the moment, I do not think that that would achieve the desired result, because all of the examples of cutting off arms that I have ever known have never succeeded. In theory, it should. You say: right, cut off arms to both combatants and then we shall have no further trouble. [end p2] First, that avoids that they may well have considerable stockpiles of arms, but secondly, it does not work. There is always someone ready there to supply them, and so there is no point in proposing something that does not in fact work.

Interviewer

Thank you Prime Minister. Now we can wait for a few minutes.

Interviewer

Prime Minister, this Summit will be convening under a number of clouds. One of these are the attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf. How much of a danger do these pose for the economy of the West?

Prime Minister

I think at the moment there are very substantial stores of oil about the world, and that is reducing the effect that they may have. It is of course important to try to keep open the shipping lanes of the world, the neutral shipping lanes. I think we are tackling it in the right way. We are keeping closely in touch with the United States, closely in touch with the countries of the Gulf, closely in touch with Europe. We are cooperating and consulting all along the line and at the United Nations. So everything possible that can be done by influence and diplomatic means is being done, and that is the right way to tackle it. [end p3]

Interviewer

You would not recommend military intervention?

Prime Minister

Military intervention should only ever be used as an absolute last resort and I think in that particular area I think the United States has already said you can only go in if you are invited by the countries of the area to go in. I think they have been very wise in the way they have tackled it and we have been in touch with them the whole time.

Interviewer

Another one of these clouds that the Summit is convening under is the Latin-American and Third World debt problem. Is there anything that can be done to ease this?

Prime Minister

We have been tackling that, you know, quietly, for a very long time. I remember when I went on Summer holiday two years ago, I had only been there one day when straight away I was called up about the Mexican debt problem. We tackled that and then the Brazil debt problem. We are tackling them calmly on a case-by-case basis and I believe that is the way we shall continue.

Interviewer

Yesterday, Bolivia—one of the smaller Latin-American debtor nations—announced that it was going to have a moratorium on repayment of its debts. Now, is this a warning sign that there is a danger of a collapse of the international banking system? [end p4]

Prime Minister

No. I think we must calculate very calmly. We have been very calm about it. We have taken it case by case. We can calculate, providing we get the cooperation of each and every one of those countries. That is necessary. They have to cooperate with the IMF, and then we are able to get the facilities which will pull us all through, but we must keep calm.

Interviewer

Have all these problems changed the nature of this Summit? Will there be fewer platitudes and perhaps more concrete proposals?

Prime Minister

Oh please do not deny us platitudes! After all, platitudes are there because they are true. Do not expect any miracles. They are not possible. If there are any, we should have known them already. The important thing is that we get together and we consult together and it strengthens us in our intention to do what is right in our own countries.

Interviewer

What actually goes on at these Summits? Are there real exchanges in private? Is there something beyond the communiques and platitudes if you will?

Prime Minister

Yes. We all meet in private. We have lunches and dinners together. The discussion is very very informal and very wide-ranging and we all profit from it immensely. They are good things to have. [end p5]

Interviewer

Are Summits really necessary?

Prime Minister

I think the world has been able to keep freer trade, sounder finance and lower interest rates because of them. After all, the steps that the United States is taking now to have a down payment—and that means a first instalment with other things to come—are the right ones to take.

Interviewer

In economic policy, how close is your thinking to that of President Reagan? Are Thatcherism and Reaganism more or less the same thing?

Prime Minister

I think they go back beyond Thatcherism or Reaganism. Sound finance …   . (coughing) …   . I am so sorry …   . could you talk?

Interviewer

Yes. Perhaps I could ask you another question at the same time. How close your thinking is to President Reagan politically? Some of your domestic critics say that you are an unconditional supporter of American policy. Would you agree with that?

Prime Minister

We believe in the same things and therefore we practise the same things. On finance, it is sound finance, keeping public expenditure reasonable and under firm control, and prudent banking policy. The world is coming to that, so I believe we are all right. On defending [end p6] democracy and the free world, peace with freedom and justice, we think the same way. We play our full part as the United Kingdom in the defence of Europe and the Free World. We have the highest absolute contribution other than the United States and the highest contribution per capita.

Interviewer

Thank you very much Prime Minister for inviting us …

Prime Minister

Sorry about this early morning cough!

Interviewer

Perhaps it is hay fever.

Prime Minister

Dry throat.

Interviewer

I have timed this up now. Diane, back to you.

Prime Minister

Thank you.