Falklands war files reveal Thatcher's secret meetings

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Photo: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

US President Ronald Reagan issued an appeal to Margaret Thatcher to abandon her campaign to retake the Falklands and to hand over the islands to international peacekeepers, according to newly released official documents released today.

Files released by the National Archives under the 30-year-rule show that Mr Reagan called the Prime Minister on 31 May 1982 as British troops were closing in on final victory.

"The best chance for peace was before complete Argentine humiliation," he told her, and urged her "to hand over the Queen's islands to a contact group".

Mrs Thatcher replied that she would not consider a ceasefire before the Argentinians withdrew from the Falklands.

ITV News' Romilly Weeks reports:

The documents also show that Mrs Thatcher insisted on paying nearly £2,000 towards the search for her son after he went missing in the Sahara desert, amid concerns of a public backlash over taxpayers' money being used.

Mark Thatcher went missing for six days in January 1982 during a rally, along with his French co-driver, Anne-Charlotte Verney, and their mechanic.

A map detailing information about British military positions around the Falkland Islands
A map detailing information about British military positions around the Falkland Islands Credit: National Archives/PA Wire

Other files show that the British government considered pulling England out of the 1982 World Cup as war broke out.

In the aftermath of the conflict, sports governing bodies were urged to pull out of competitions with Argentinian teams because players might find it "difficult to meet Argentina on a sports field" if fighting continued.

A 'Condemned Islands' leaflet produced to drop on Argentine forces on the Falkland Islands
A 'Condemned Islands' leaflet produced to drop on Argentine forces on the Falkland Islands Credit: National Archives/PA Wire

But the documents show that cabinet ministers debated whether pulling out of the 1982 Football World Cup in Spain would send the right message.

In the end, England played and was knocked out in the second round.