President Reagan today bade a ceremonial farewell to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who praised her longtime friend and political soul mate for giving the world the chance to start “over again.”
In a nostalgic parting of the like-minded allies, Reagan and Thatcher met at the White House for the last time as heads of state and remembered with fondness and pride the achievements of the last eight years.
“Thanks to your courage and leadership, the fire of individual freedom burns more brightly, not just in America, not just in the West, but right across the world,” Thatcher said in a formal tribute upon arrival.
Stronger Defense Sought
Both leaders celebrated the achievements of their partnership, which began in 1981 as a quest for a strong defense and free-market economic principles.
“Stand together we have,” Reagan said. “When first you were here, Prime Minister Thatcher, we referred to a decade fraught with danger. We can hope today that in meeting those dangers, we have transformed that decade into a turning point--a turning point for our age and for all time.”
In paying her poignant tribute to the 77-year-old Reagan, Thatcher concluded by turning from the crowd assembled on the South Lawn of the White House to say: “Mr. President, the office which you hold is the greatest in the world.
“But it is the man who holds that office--you, sir--who has enabled us to begin the world over again. We salute and thank you for it.”
Private Meeting Held
The two senior Western leaders met privately for half an hour before Vice President George Bush and other top aides joined them. Assistant Secretary of State Rozanne Ridgway said little was known of what the two said in private, but publicly they were enthusiastic about the progress made and what lay ahead.
Economic concerns, changes in East-West relations and regional issues were among the topics addressed, Ridgway said, though with “no extensive, substantive discussion.”
But the meeting, revolving around already established political agreement, was between Reagan and Thatcher and no one, not even President-elect Bush, had anything to say.
“It was a meeting between the President and the prime minister,” Ridgway said.