Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1985 Oct 24 Th
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN (visiting UN)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Hyatt Hotel, New York
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Jon Snow, ITN
Editorial comments: 1745-1815 MT gave UK radio and television interviews.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 892
Themes: Defence (arms control), Foreign policy (International organizations), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Media

Jon Snow, ITN

You are in regular touch, by various means, with the President and with your allies. Why did you feel the need to gather in this mini-summit form today?

Prime Minister

I think this is the most important meeting that there has been for some time. Indeed, it is the first one for a long time between President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachevthe General Secretary of the Soviet Union and you know, if he had not consulted his allies, the press would have been the first to criticise and so it seems a bit odd that you now ask why it was necessary for it to take place. It was very good that we had this chance to consult face to face. You know, you read a load of papers and you send all sorts of messages through diplomatic channels, and when you have done quite a lot of that it is good just to meet and talk things through.

Jon Snow, ITN

Were there misunderstandings that needed to be ironed out? [end p1]

Prime Minister

No, I do not think there were any misunderstandings. The significant thing was the way we all fully support President Reagan. He is our champion as he goes to Geneva, and we all agree that there will be no possibility of the Soviet Union trying to divide Europe from the United States or trying to divide the NATO alliance on this matter.

Jon Snow, ITN

Did you have any feeling that the President's launching of this new regional conflict initiative might have some risks attached to it, being so close to the Geneva Summit?

Prime Minister

I think that is quite separate from the Geneva Summit, but it has always been understood that some of the main conflicts which have been persistent and gone on for such a long time, would be discussed between the two great world leaders. What he did today was put forward something, a possible way forward, but before we dash into opinions I think we need to look at it very carefully and consider it among ourselves.

Jon Snow, ITN

Prime Minister, are you aware of any sense of confusion in Europe stemming from some of the divided signals that sometimes come out of the White House, particularly for example on the interpretation of treaties? The question of redefining a treaty that might permit Star Wars stepping, for example. There [end p2] have been two views expressed by senior Administration officials. Did that cause difficulties in Europe?

Prime Minister

No, I do not think so. The Administration came out with its interpretation of the ABM Treaty and it is what I would call the conventional interpretation, which is the one to which we have always attached to it, but there are, I think, margins of that treaty … I think that there are perhaps some weapons or some radars or some tests which may or may not be within the treaty because on the margins the words are not clear. I think it would be a very very good thing if we got those words clear, because in a very uncertain world you want treaties to be clear so that you know that any action is clearly within or clearly without.

Jon Snow, ITN

Do you think after these days in New York that the President has regained the initiative as we go into Geneva?

Prime Minister

I think he has. It was a very impressive speech this morning. It was beautifully constructed, marvellously delivered, and I thought that he had regained the communications initiative. To me he does not need to do that, the issues are so big, but I think they are too big to be dealt with by public relations, but everyone talks about public relations and if you have a good story to tell then you really should communicate it, and he has [end p3] a marvellous story to tell. Do you know, quite a lot of people do not even know that the United States put forward extensive proposals at the Geneva disarmament talks in spring. They think Mr. Gorbachev 's proposals were the first. They were not. They were counter-proposals, so clearly we have not got that message across, so we must sing our tunes a little bit louder.

Jon Snow, ITN

Prime Minister, you hear Moscow and you hear Washington. Obviously, you are closer to Washington, but as we go into the Geneva Summit, what sort of expectations should ordinary people have of what might be achieved there?

Prime Minister

Well of course, we are not only closer to Washington. We are part of the free world and the Western Alliance and that makes an enormous difference. What sort of hopes should one have? We are all very impressed by the total dedication, the intense attention to detail that has been given by the whole of the American staff in support of the President and indeed, the attention he is giving to these talks. He wants them to be a success. We want them to be a success. We know for them to be a success they must also be a success for the Soviet Union, so it means that we are all able to go forward with those disarmament talks and we are all able to go forward certainly with very very different political systems, very very different ideologies, but [end p4] believing it is in our interests that there should never again be conflict between us and that security matters to us both. Then we can get on with raising the standard of living and helping other peoples who need help. And I think that gives very good grounds for quiet optimism.