Commentary

Key personal & political events

1984 Nov 3 Sa
Shultz (George)

Cold War: Meeting MT at Mrs Gandhi’s funeral (Shultz memoirs)

Document type: Press
Document kind: Memoirs
Venue: -
Source: George Shultz Turmoil & Triumph
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: -
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 3535 words
Themes: Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states)

Late that night, the three of us – Baker , Moynihan , and I – had almost completed the rounds. We had called on Rajiv Gandhi and had held bilateral meetings into double digits. We were exhausted. But our evening was not at an end. Our last stop was at the residence of the British high commissioner, where Prime Minister Thatcher was waiting to greet us. She briskly ushered us into the study. It was an English country house in India. Fine books and prints of rural churches lined the walls. A carved wooden hobbyhorse rocked at a touch in the corner. The fireplace was lit. Mrs Thatcher clapped her hands, and servants in scarlet fan-topped turbans appeared: a bearer of scotch; a bearer of soda water; a bearer of brandy and cognac. A gold and glass clock struck midnight. Senator Moynihan spoke: “Prime Minister, you have not disappointed us. You are the first person we have seen today who has offered us a real drink!”

Mrs Thatcher picked up a whiskey-soda. “One can take only so much orange juice,” she said.

She looked around the room to make sure the servants had departed. She then engaged us in an energetic conversation, which she dominated, on the world's political scene. This was a great opportunity to reverse the trend of the last twenty years during which “India has been closer to the Soviet Union than to the Americans and you Americans have been closer to Pakistan,” she said. “Now we have a chance to be close to both India and Pakistan and they closer to each other.” Mrs Gandhi hated communism, said Thatcher. “She only used it for India's international purposes while never adopting it for India's politics or society.” She and Indira Gandhi had been at Somerville College, Oxford, at the same time, she noted. Then came a long Thatcher exposition on arms control. “I know you have thought all about this and already know what I'm about to say but …” She wore us down. As we left, Princess Anne emerged to chat. I began to wonder whether the English ever slept.