Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1987 Jul 17 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for CNN (visiting Washington) (defending Reagan)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: British Embassy, Washington DC
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Ralph Begleiter, CNN
Editorial comments: 0700-0740 MT gave four live TV interviews. Copyright in the broadcast from which this transcript is taken is retained by CNN and the transcript is reproduced by permission of CNN.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 995
Themes: Defence (arms control), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Middle East), Terrorism, Foreign policy (USA)

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

Good morning, Prime Minister Thatcher.

Prime Minister

Good morning.

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

The Geneva arms negotiations between the US and the Soviet Union seem to have slowed to a bit of a crawl these days and that could jeopardise the next summit between President Reagan and Secretary Gorbachev; how do you feel about that and what do you think the Soviet are up to?

Prime Minister

Well, I think it is more essential to get the details right than to try to hurry them. This will be the first arms reduction agreement that has been negotiated for a very long time. There is not basic trust and confidence between the West and the Soviet Union - there cannot be until they do better on human rights and while they are in Afghanistan. That means that everything you agree with them you have got to be sure that you can check it at every stage and verification is detailed and difficult, particularly in a country as large as the Soviet Union - a much, much bigger country [end p1] geographically than the United States - so I am pleased they are taking a lot of trouble. It is more important to get it right than to get the wrong agreement in a hurry.

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

Do you think it is possible to get it right during President Reagan's term in office and have it ratified by the Senate?

Prime Minister

Yes, I do believe it is possible to do that. I believe that both sides would like an agreement and I certainly think that Mr Gorbachev needs one if he is to be able to do some of the exciting things - very exciting historic and courageous things that he is doing in the Soviet Union.

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

what do you think the Soviets are up to in their delaying tactic at the moment or do you think they are delaying?

Prime Minister

I think there is a bit of what I call brinkmanship going on. It would be surprising if there were not. But you know it is Geneva where the detailed negotiations are taking place and I think that soon they will come to the conclusion that they would like that agreement and that some of the blockages - and they are, for example, the 100&slash;100 on each side in the intermediate weapons - that gives enormous extra problems; it would be better if we could get rid of those altogether. [end p2]

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

Let me ask you about Europe seemingly reducing its pressure on Syria these days in Middle East. There seems to be a move towards bringing Syria back into the international diplomatic fold at least; do you think that the United States should send its Ambassador back to Syria and would that improve the prospects for release-of everyone's hostages in Lebanon?

Prime Minister

Well, in Europe what we have done is accepted that Syria has done something in closing down the Abu Nidal offices in Damascus and that is a first step to saying that she disapproves of what they are doing. Unfortunately they are still in the Beka'a valley where of course Syria also is, so we have said that is something, we must recognise that step but it is not yet enough to restore diplomatic relations and certainly would not be for us, and what we have done in Europe is to say, “Look we shall continue or start again some high level contacts” - that is the other members of the European community, not ourselves; it was too deep a wound for us to do that. Syria will have to do far more yet to show she is not getting involved in any way in terrorism than she has done so far.

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

And what do you think about these moves on your part and on Europe's part in terms of the hostages fate? Will it benefit the hostages or do you not see the connection there necessarily? [end p3]

Prime Minister

I think that Syria is trying to get the hostages released in so far as she can. My concern is that we do not restore full diplomatic relations. As far as we are concerned we cannot unless we are certain that she has totally rejected terrorism.

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

Turning to the Gulf for a moment. Is the United States correct in providing escorts to Kuwaiti oil tankers to a friend of Iraq in a war which might provoke Iranian attacks and perhaps if an attack takes place, the American people - it might provoke the American people to withdraw from that role of protecting freedom of navigation?

Prime Minister

Look, I think it is important to protect freedom of navigation. We have been doing it with our own ships and escorting them up the Gulf, it is about five a week; we must have done about 150 now since things got very difficult. We have been escorting them up the Gulf for some considerable time with the Armilla patrol. America is doing the same with hers. Look, President Reagan took a clear decisive leadership decision - took it, yes - under difficult circumstances and that decision, I believe, should be supported.

Ralph Begleiter, CNN

It is not quite the same thing what you are doing though; you are protecting British ships, the US has reflagged Kuwaiti ships; it is protecting the ships of a friend of Iraq, one of the participants [end p4] in the war; are you prepared to do that in Britain?

Prime Minister

It is protecting - we have not the means to do any more than we are doing - it is protecting the freedom of navigation in the Gulf. The flag ships, the Kuwaiti flag ships - and the protection has not yet started because they have not been reflagged - are but a small proportion of Kuwaiti ships, a small proportion, so it is indeed a gesture that the United States and also Great Britain believe that the Gulf is important, that freedom of navigation is important. The President has made a clear decision and I think he should be supported on it.