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1987 Oct 1 Th
Margaret Thatcher

Remarks after meeting US Vice-President (George Bush) at No.10

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Editorial comments: Around 1810. Vice-President Bush’s remarks follow MT’s.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 791
Themes: Commonwealth (general), Defence (arms control), Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (USA)

Prime Minister

We are very happy to see Vice-President Bush. He is always a welcome visitor. I am particularly pleased that he has come after his extensive tour of Europe. Of course we have discussed many things in particular the coming INF agreement and the whole East West situation and of course we agree on most of it. We regard the INF agreement—assuming it comes about—as a great triumph for the West because it would never have happened of course but for the resolute way in which we deployed Cruise and Pershing missiles. We have also discussed the Gulf. We have nothing further to report on it. As you know the matter is in the hands of Perez de Cuellar and seeking some further position from Iran but there is also some work going on on a contingency basis on arms embargo. We have discussed the situation in Central America and also considerable discussion about the Middle East. A very interesting worthwhile session and a very happy session.

Question

Prime Minister, could you comment on the situation in Fiji?

Prime Minister

No, I did not discuss that with Vice-President Bush and we have no further information to give you. [end p1]

Question

Could you tell us what you would like to see done at this point about the conventional balance or imbalance in Europe following an INF agreement?

Prime Minister

Look, I think is someone going to ask Vice-President Bush first? I am quite happy to go on answering them but I have said so frequently that the next steps following an INF agreement and the 50%; negotiated reductions in the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles must then be devoted to reducing the conventional imbalance in which as you know the Soviet Union has an enormous preponderance and also of course they have an enormous preponderance, even greater, of chemical weapons. Unless we give foremost attention to those, then it could, I think imbalance our fundamental defence.

Question

What about the US presidential elections Mrs Thatcher?

Prime Minister

I have no vote.

Question

Would you feel more confident if you knew that the Vice-President was going to be sworn in in January 1989 as to what would happen with continuing negotiations?

Prime Minister

You are tempting me into spheres into which I shall not be tempted. I am not easily provoked.

Question

Mr Vice-President. Honestly now, was this journey part of the opening salvo in your campaign? [end p2]

Vice-President Bush

No, it was not. I think most people that are serious about foreign affairs, I hope by now realise that it was not. I recall going to China in 1983 and the first question off the plane was “Are you here to help yourself politically?” I was not then and I am not now and I think it has been a very useful trip and of course we value the judgement, the opinions of the Prime Minister and we had the fullest sense of consultations as she said, so hopefully the trip will be viewed as what it is supposed to be and that is continuing consultation, brand new moves in the Poland [sic] and a very good trip in terms of seeing the common ground and I might say that I agree totally with what the Prime Minister said, and so does our President, in terms of the priorities on arms negotiations. But it is important that I hear directly from her, her latest thinking on these matters so when I see the President Monday morning, we can go over these matters. So that is what it is really about.

Question

Mr Vice-President, this camera right here is employed by your election campaign stand. You said this is not a political trip. Why are you having this camera here?

Vice-President Bush

I hope that those pictures will be very good when I get into politics. When I get back I will be in it right from the beginning but just as President Reagan was accompanied by cameras when he went to Normandy, there is nothing inappropriate, but for that to be the whole focus simply would be misunderstanding the importance of this trip and most people that have observed what took place in Poland seem to think that it had some substantive importance. And I can [end p3] tell you—having been involved in foreign affairs for some time—that the visits I had in Italy, France, Germany and especially here today with the Prime Minister, have been all substance and no politics.

Prime Minister

I would like to confirm that they have all been on issues which the Vice-President deals with as Vice-President, all very important. Now I am not quite sure about you. I have some other engagements.