Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for NBC (visiting Washington)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Blair House, Washington DC
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Andrea Mitchell, NBC
Editorial comments:

Between 0700 and 0800 MT gave live interviews to the US networks.

Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 776
Themes: Monetary policy, Foreign policy - theory and process, Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Middle East)

Andrea Mitchell, NBC

Welcome again, Mrs. Thatcher. So good to see you!

Brian has just noted that you are on your way to your first official meeting with the President-elect. What are your major concerns when you see him today?

Prime Minister

I think the major concerns will be those that are already right in the public orbit.

East-West relations are extremely important and will continue. Things are happening in the Middle East and naturally, one hopes that that Arab Israel peace process will be taken forward - it seems the time to do it.

We have changes in withdrawal from Afghanistan, a very good agreement about Angola and, of course, the world economy and, in particular, the necessity to keep trade open and free - that is very important for the prosperity of us all. [end p1]

Andrea Mitchell, NBC

Speaking about the prosperity of us all, President Reagan said this week that his greatest failure - his biggest disappointment - was not having done something about the deficit.

How long do you think George Bush has to really tackle this problem? How serious a problem is the American deficit to the world economy?

Prime Minister

Well, the American economy itself is very strong and performing very strongly and it has this one thing, which I have not the slightest shadow of doubt will be tackled responsibly and managed well when George Bush and his advisers are ready to come out with their policies, and I do not think one should hurry them. They must have full time to consider how they are going to deal with it with Congress.

We, it so happens, have tackled things another way. We have a budget surplus and are redeeming debt, but you know, the budget deficit in the United States is small compared with your Gross Domestic Product - the trouble is that your savings are small as well - but it is tackleable.

Andrea Mitchell, NBC

Is it possible to tackle it, though, without taxes, without doing something serious about the revenue side? [end p2]

Prime Minister

You can deal with deficits two ways: either by getting down your public spending or by putting up your taxation, or having a look and seeing what the growth forecasts are and seeing, if you hold your public spending, then the extra which you get from your growth can go to reducing your deficit.

There are many ways in which it can be done and it is for the new President and his advisers to decide how, but they really must not be pressured too much.

Andrea Mitchell, NBC

Now, the Middle East. You have said, in fact, to President Reagan and his advisers that you do see some hopeful signs in the new PLO Declaration. The US repeated only yesterday that it does see hopeful signs, that this is not enough.

Why do you think that there is something in the Declaration that could lead to progress?

Prime Minister

I think it is very difficult to read all the small print, for reasons that we understand.

What I have said is if it is correct that the Palestinians have accepted Resolutions 242 and 338, that is a modest step forward. It is not the only step that they need to take - there are others as well, but if it is correct that they have done that, that would be a modest step forward and something that we can build on. [end p3]

Andrea Mitchell, NBC

You were the first person to say that the West could do business with Mikhail Gorbachev. How would you rate his chances of success, of really doing something to open up that rigid society?

Prime Minister

I think Mikhail Gorbachevhe has already made changes. I think the greater openness of discussion, debate, both in the public media and privately, is a very great step forward and I do not think that can ever be taken back again.

I think it is much more difficult to say to people who have been used to being told what to do: “Now you are going to have to take some initiatives on your own and take responsibility!” How quickly that can come about, I do not quite know. I think he is absolutely right now to concentrate on agriculture.

I am sure that he will continue. This is his dream, his vision. He knows it is right and he is the kind of person that will continue and therefore I think he needs all our support.

Andrea Mitchell, NBC

Thank you very much. It is, as always, a great pleasure to have you with us here, Prime Minister.

Prime Minister

My pleasure. Thank you!