Archive (State Department)

Falklands: Reagan letter to Thatcher (0245Z) (Galtieri intends to use force) [US neutral on sovereignty but not on Argentine use of force] [declassified 2001]

Document type: Declassified documents
Venue: White House
Source: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives (King's College, London): Woolly Al Walks the Kitty Back (BBC TV/Brian Lapping Associates Programme Archive) [6/1]
Editorial comments:

Drafted late in the evening of 1 April, Washington time, despatched 0245Z, hence listed here as 2 April. This text originally went online in the form of a draft inserted into the interview notes for a tv documentary on the Falklands involving Jim Rentschler. Rentschler prepared the draft immediately after the President's call to Galtieri. The text is identical to one later released by the State Department on 6 Nov 2001, in the Thatcher digital archive.

Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 212 words
Themes: Foreign policy (USA), Defence (Falklands War, 1982), MT contacts with Ronald Reagan

[James Rentschler (NSC) draft]

Dear Margaret:

I have just talked at length with General Galtieri about the situation in the Falklands. I conveyed to him my personal concern about the possibility of an Argentinian invasion. I told him that initiating military operations against the Falklands Islands would seriously compromise relations between the US and Argentina, and I urged him to refrain from offensive action. I offered our good offices and my readiness to send a personal representative to assist in resolving the issue between Argentina and the UK.

The General heard my message, but gave me no commitment that he would comply with it. Indeed, he spoke in terms of ultimatums and left me with the clear impression that he has embarked on a course of armed conflict. We will continue to cooperate with your government in the effort to resolve the dispute, both in attempting to avert hostilities and to stop them if they should break out. While we have a policy of neutrality on the sovereignty issue, we will not be neutral on the issue involving Argentine use of military force.

Warmest wishes,