Commentary (The Times)

Cold War: "Cold war 'will last until 2000'" (MT-Bush meeting at Camp David)

Document type: Press
Source: The Times , 25 November 1989
Editorial comments:
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 484 words
Themes: Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (USA)

Edition 4*s
SAT 25 NOV 1989

Cold war ‘will last until 2000’


The Prime Minister and President Bush agreed yesterday, in advance of next month's Mediterranean summit between Mr Bush and President Gorbachev, that there should be no change in the boundaries of Europe.

Meeting at Camp David, the two leaders united on the need to take a cautious approach to events in Eastern Europe, including the dismantling of the Berlin Wall.

Mrs Thatcher and Mr Bush, who had a relaxed and friendly meeting followed by a private lunch, decided that the reunification of Germany should not be on the agenda for the time being.

Earlier the Prime Minister said that the US must keep a “substantial presence” in Europe and said that the cold war would not be over until the end of the century.

After their meeting, which lasted far longer than had been scheduled, Mrs Thatcher said that she felt Mr Gorbachov was firmly “in the saddle”.

“I believe he will get through,” she said. But she repeated her cautious line on defence cuts: “Don't disarm too fast. Every single step has to be agreed with the Soviet Union so that neither their security nor our security is in jeopardy.”

It was clear that there had been a long exchange on proposals for arms cuts mooted by the American administration this week. Mrs Thatcher made plain that she was opposed to a second phase of conventional force reductions until the first phase currently under discussion in Vienna had started to be implemented and NATO had assessed better what had happened in eastern Europe.

As predicted, one disagreement was over the the 57,000 Vietnamese boat people in Hong Kong. Mrs Thatcher had told Mr Bush that Britain would have to send back some of the non-genuine refugees.

Speaking before the summit, Mrs Thatcher used a series of nationwide television interviews to warn the American people against “excessive euphoria” about the recent events in Eastern Europe.

Aware of the growing public pressure facing the American Administration to cut American forces in Europe, Mrs Thatcher reiterated the need for Nato to maintain its strength and to modernize its weapons, including short-range nuclear arms and said several times that had the Alliance been in place in the 1930s the last war would never have happened.

Mrs Thatcher, appearing on four television networks at breakfast time, said repeatedly that the cold war was not over but that it was thawing. She warned:

“When the ice breaks it breaks up and it can be very dangerous”. She said everyone was excited by the events in East Germany and elsewhere. But she went on: “Please don't let euphoria go on. Euphoria is a bad master ... the easy thing is the demonstrations.”