US Twist shocks Thatcher
Francis Pym, the Foreign Secretary, was involved in a series of dramatic telephone calls early today in what turned out to be muddle and confusion over voting in the latest Security Council draft ceasefire resolution on the Falkland Islands.
The United States secretary of state, Alexander Haig, telephoned him in Versailles to say that, since this new resolution contained a reaffirmation of the original resolution ordering the Argentines to quit the islands, he thought it would be misunderstood if the United States voted against it.
He was therefore issuing instructions for the US delegation at New York to abstain.
An astonished Mr Pym expressed profound dismay, specially since this bolt from the blue followed an eve-of-summit dinner at the Palace of Versailles at which Mr Haig had continued to express the United States' wholehearted support for Britain's action over the Falklands.
But 10 minutes after Mr Pym replaced his receiver, Mr Haig phoned him back to tell him that his instructions to New York had arrived too late and that the United States had already voted against the resolution.
Even so, to Mr Pym this must appear to indicate something a little less than the unequivocal support that Mr Haig had been proclaiming for Britain.
Meanwhile, Mr Pym heard that the Japanese minister of foreign affairs, Mr Yoshio Sakurauchi, who explained that they had taken this stance in the expectation that the Argentine were on the point of withdrawal.
Mr Pym told the Japanese minister that there was no evidence of this, and asked Japan at the 11th hour to reconsider.
PM to leave early
The prime minister is to leave the seven-nation economic summit at Versailles tomorrow evening instead of on Monday morning as originally planned.
This has given rise to speculation at the summit today that action by British forces, now digging in around Port Stanley, is imminent.
But British sources are insisting that Mrs. Thatcher's early departure is merely to give her more much-needed time to prepare for a specially busy week ahead, which includes the visit by President Reagan and the resumption of Parliament following the spring recess.
'Captain Death' arrives
Lt Cdr. Alfredo Astiz, the captured commander of the Argentine garrison on South Georgia who is said to have been the head of a kidnap and torture squad in Argentina, arrived in Chichester early today.
Astiz, known as ‘Captain Death’, was flown into Britain late last night before being driven to Rousillon Barracks - the training centre of the Royal Military Police.
Both France and Sweden want to question Astiz about his alleged involvement in the disappearance of an 18-year-old Swedish girl and two French nuns in 1977.
But the Ministry of Defence said that, as a prisoner of war, he is entitled to the full protection of the Geneva Convention.
In other news: On-the-spot winners pin down prizes
It was smiles all round for the latest winners of The News X Marks The Ball competition when they picked up cheques totalling £4,900.
For pensioner Mrs. Gladys Gill, of Merrivale Road, Hilsea, a regular entrant, part of her £2,800 prize will go to her five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
‘I've had two small wins before, but this is the first time I've ever won anything like this,’ she beamed. ‘I still can't believe it – and all for a £1 stake.’
The other jackpot winner was Mrs Betty Green, of St Andrews Road, Southsea. A confirmed Fulham fan, she placed the crucial X on the coupon and thought no more about it.