Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1987 Jul 19 Su
Margaret Thatcher

Press Conference en route from Jamaica to London

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Press Conference
Venue: Mid-air in the official VC-10 transport
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: Between 1800 local time and 0900 British time. The broadcast press were able to use material from this Press Conference (excerpts on BBC Radio News Report 0700 19 July 1987).
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1360
Themes: Defence (arms control), Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (Americas excluding USA), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Terrorism

Prime Minister

Morning all. You wanted me to say a few words about how we shall follow up the visit. Of course we will be in touch with Mr Gorbachev because one of the frequent questions we have been asked is “Is the Soviet Union dragging its feet on the armaments, on arms control negotiations?” . I do not think so but I think that message should be sent to Mr Gorbachev so the negotiations—if he wants an agreement, and I believe he does—get down to the details and be completed I hope by the end of the year because I think it can be if both sides really want it, but of course no-one is going to give away anything that they think is against their interest so it has come to the difficult part of the negotiations.

And on the Middle East, which is also another very prominent part of the work we did in Washington, of course we will be in touch again with Mr Peres who comes to see me from time to time and some of the Arab leaders about that matter.

On Jamaica, I think one sees why aid is needed, one sees that it is not only a question of money, although we are trying to help with money; but it is also a question of helping in the ways which only I think we can, for example with training the police. It [end p1] seemed to me that is an extremely important part of Jamaican life. The standards which we try to incalcate through lending them some of our police—as you know they have got a deputy commissioner there from our police training college—is very very important to giving them high standards and very very important to the work they do on drugs and the work they do generally in being guardians of the community in Jamaica.

I shall see Mr Seaga again, both at Vancouver and possibly at the IDU conference in Berlin on September 25 and 26 when I shall also see Chancellor Kohl; that is the next time.

I shall also be following up when I see President Mitterrand and Mr Chirac because we are going over to complete the Channel Tunnel agreement—I think this coming week Charles PowellCharles, isn't it? (inaudible reply)

So we shall be following up really on all fronts. I think it has been quite a concentrated tour; we could have done a couple more days if need be but that would have left rather a lot to follow up, and anyway Dr Mahathir is coming tomorrow as our guest and it is the last week in Parliament so we could not have been away longer. Now, your questions.

Question

Prime Minister, you have a unique relationship now with Mr Gorbachev and President Reagan; how do you intend to use this position? For example, if necessary will you see, if things look like getting stuck, will you see Mr Gorbachev again perhaps or is there any chance of this summit being held in Britain where you can …? [end p2]

Prime Minister

I have no plans to see Mikhail Gorbachevhim again. I think the kind of tour that one did to the Soviet Union is one that you cannot repeat too often. It just was really quite a fantastic tour but we are in regular touch through diplomatic channels and will continue to be so and just as if the Leonid ZamyatinSoviet Ambassador asked to see me so, if I sent a message to Bryan Cartledge, he will I think have some priority in getting it through and as you know, wherever I am in the world I do make it perfectly clear just as I did in the Soviet Union that we support Mr Gorbachev in really the historic things that he is doing in the Soviet Union. We do not say anything different in the United States about that from what we say in the Soviet Union. It is clear that we support Mr Gorbachev in his very courageous and historic approach to what is happening in the Soviet Union.

Question

Will he come to Britain at any time?

Prime Minister

Well, we have no immediate plans. I would like him to obviously. Well, no we have no immediate plans so I cannot give you a false answer.

Question

Do you think it is likely that you will be seeing the Soviet Ambassador fairly soon on this?

Prime Minister

No, I think we shall send a message to Mr Gorbachev. Perhaps [end p3] we shall send it through our Ambassador, we shall send it through Bryan Cartledge. Do not forget he was in my office for a time.

Question

Could I just ask on Iran/ Iraq and France? Is there anything that you are going to do when you get back on that front?

Prime Minister

Well, I am afraid there is not very much we can do on that front. As you know we had certain problems and I think we handled them very well. We have not broken diplomatic relations but Iran has just one person in London just to technically look after any of the things which need doing and obviously to be there to be a contact point for any Iranian citizens in Britain and we just have one in Teheran. We have not broken relations but we are right down to one for reasons you know because we made it quite clear that we were not going to have our diplomats treated over there in the way they were.

Question

You do not see the need for a sort of European one?

Prime Minister

Well, I do not think that we can do a great deal about that. It is a bilateral problem as you know.

Question

Will you be making a statement to the Commons tomorrow on the whole tour? [end p4]

Prime Minister

No, I do not normally when I come back from a visit unless it happens to be a historic one. This, I would think, was more of a routine nature unless they make great demands for one but I do not see the need for one. I think it is a mistake to make a statement every time you do a bilateral visit and there is quite a lot to do next week: quite a lot of statements too.

Question

Did you talk about hostages to President Reagan?

Prime Minister

No, we did not talk very much about—we were more on the United Nations Security Council resolution in the Gulf; the need to stop that war from escalating; that is why one is trying to get a cease-fire and above all to stop it escalating in the Gulf area. We were not on the subject of hostages.

Question

What has Syria got to do to come back into …?

Prime Minister

To show rather more convincingly than she has at present that she is totally against terrorism. At the moment she has got rid of the Abu Nidal office from Damascus. The Abu Nidal of course are still in the Beka'a valley. She has not got rid of the people who were very prominent in the Hindawi matter. They are still in high places. That obviously is of very great concern to us. [end p5]

Question

You are not going to actually stop them as part of the international conference?

Prime Minister

Sorry?

Question

You are not going to stop—stand in the way—of Syria being brought into the talks …?

Prime Minister

That will be—if you are going to have an attempt comprehensively to end the Arab Israeli problem, it would have to be done on all fronts. The international conference is a framework conference; that is all. Then you have to have the bilateral negotiation between Israel and Jordan with the Palestinian negotiation—between Israel and Syria because the fact is the Golan Heights is the boundary. The United Nations force on the Golan Heights works extremely well but there is a dispute there so that has to be another set of bilateral negotiations.

The third one of course would have to be Israel and the Lebanon which would of course at the moment be a very highly complicated one but I think that the thing one wants to try to get started is the Israel-Jordanian one with the Palestinians negotiating with King Hussein because that goes to the heart of the Palestinian problem.