PRIME Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Government waged a series of secret diplomatic battles as British forces fought to re-take the Falkland Islands, official documents reveal today.
The former premier faced down a last-minute plea by US President Ronald Reagan to halt the conflict, just as Britain prepared to launch a final assault on the Falklands capital Port Stanley in May 1982.
The Americans had already proposed sending a joint US-Brazilian peacekeeping mission, and files released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule show the president suggested in a late-night phone call that the time had come to show magnanimity.
But according to the official Number 10 note, Mrs Thatcher told him: “Britain had not lost precious lives in battle and sent an enormous task force to hand over the Queen’s islands to a contact group.
“As Britain had had to go into the islands alone, with no outside help, she could not now let the invader gain from his aggression. The prime minister asked the president to put himself in her position.
“She had lost valuable British ships and invaluable British lives. She was sure that the president would act in the same way if Alaska had been similarly threatened.”
Papers also reveal she sent a furious telegram to French President Francois Mitterrand warning of a “devastating effect” on the relationship between the two countries and on Nato amid concerns that more French-made Exocet missiles could find their way to Argentina in the wake of deadly attacks on HMS Sheffield and the transporter Atlantic Conveyor.
The files show how a plot by Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to supply arms to the Argentinians was also unmasked by British agents.
Other documents reveal Mrs Thatcher paid £2,000 for a search operation to find her son Mark who was lost in the Sahara desert. Officials remarked on costs run up including a large bill for drinks after Mark and her husband Denis were reunited.