Argentine reply ‘discouraging’; ‘big gap’ depresses Thatcher
Mrs Margaret Thatcher today described the Argentine reply to the latest UN peace proposals as ‘not very encouraging’.
‘The gap looks big,’ the Prime Minister said in an interview on Jimmy Young’s BBC radio programme. But she said she had only seen an outline of the reply, delivered early today to the UN Secretary-General and it still had yet to be considered in detail.
‘But we in Britain stand for certain things. Our people there are now being denied the freedoms which are their heritage. We also stand for international law.
‘We will try to uphold it still by peaceful settlement. We can’t do that if the Argentinians are not prepared to agree. If they are not, the responsibility for anything else must be theirs.
‘We haven’t actually had the full reply yet - just a preliminary indication from our ambassador in New York, but from the indications that were given to him I’m afraid it doesn’t look very encouraging.’
Mrs Thatcher was speaking after a meeting of the Inner Cabinet which demanded a swift final response by the Argentine junta to the proposals.
If this response, like all previous ones, remains unacceptable to Britain, an invasion of the Falkland Islands by the week-end seems inevitable.
The preliminary response from Buenos Aires reached Britain’s Ambassador to the United Nations (Sir Anthony Parsons) through the Secretary General (Mr Perez de Cuellar) yesterday.
But the junta made clear when delivering its preliminary reaction that a final response would follow.
Tories not hopeful
A Tory MP who has led demands for a peaceful settlement of the Falklands crisis, today said he had very little optimism about finding a solution by negotiation.
The Chairman of the Tory back bench Foreign Affairs Committee (Mr Roy Whitney), was commenting on a private meeting of the committee. Mr Whitney said there was general recognition ‘that almost certainly we cannot find a solution’.
Mr Ian Lloyd (Havant and Waterlooville) said there was ‘20-1 support’ for the Foreign Secretary at the committee meeting.
During the discussion, Mr Lloyd said Britain needed a major industrial and logistic base nearer to the Falklands than Ascension Island or the USA.
Refits at top speed
All available skilled labour in Portsmouth is being used to accelerate the refits of the guided-missile destroyers HMS Fife and HMS Newcastle.
Men are working around the clock to finish the refits so that two major units of the surface fleet are available as early as possible.
This means that preliminary work on getting the 28-year-old aircraft carrier HMS Bulwark in a fit state for sea, in case she is needed for the Falklands, has stopped.
It is understood that the decision on whether Bulwark will be needed as a floating barracks block-air base in the Falklands has not yet been made.
Victoria says her first hello
Two-year-old Victoria Mellor, of North End, will have no shortage of playmates as she grows up.
For on Sunday, at St Mary’s Hospital, Milton, her mother gave birth to four babies.
The quads are the first born at St Mary’s, and it is the largest multiple birth at the hospital in the memory of Senior Nursing Officer Miss A. Williamson.
They arrived three months prematurely and were all born within two minutes of each other.
Proud parents, Brian (25), and Jackie Mellor (24), quickly recovered from the shock of being told they were expecting an instant family and began to look forward to the birth.