242. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The President’s Meeting with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher


  • The President
  • The Vice President
  • Secretary of State Cyrus Vance
  • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • David Aaron, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Ambassador Kingman Brewster
  • Ambassador at Large Henry Owen
  • George Vest, Assistant Secretary of State
  • Robert D. Blackwill, NSC Staff Member
  • Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher
  • Lord Carrington, UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
  • Sir Nicholas Henderson, Ambassador to the U.S.
  • Sir Robert Armstrong, Secretary to the Cabinet
  • Sir Michael Palliser, Permanent Under Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Sir Frank Cooper, Ministry of Defense
  • Michael Alexander, Private Secretary to the PM
  • George Walden, Principal Secretary to the Secretary of State

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to a comprehensive test ban.]

As the meeting neared its end, Lord Carrington said that he and Secretary Vance would talk about Belize in their meeting in the afternoon. The President said he would discuss China and perhaps Namibia at dinner with the Prime Minister. The CTB should also be addressed. Mrs. Thatcher quickly replied that the UK could only afford one seis-mic station and had offered to withdraw if that would help the negotiations.2 The President said he had discussed this issue with Brezhnev at [Page 594] Vienna who had objected to UK withdrawal.3 If the British could not accept ten seismic stations, perhaps four would be an appropriate number. The Prime Minister, her voice breaking, said four was a ridiculous number. The UK only needed one and had much better ways to spend its money. The President wryly noted that Britain might consider these stations as a kind of status symbol and asked the Prime Minister to again consider accepting four of them. Mrs. Thatcher replied that although Britain had no wish to withdraw, these stations were very expensive. (S)

The President, Secretary Vance and Dr. Brzezinski and the Prime Minister, Lord Carrington and Sir Robert Armstrong then moved into the Oval Office for further discussion. (C)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 37, Memcons: President: 10–12/79. Secret. The meeting took place in the Cabinet Room at the White House. The conversation is scheduled to be printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXVII, Western Europe.
  2. Brewster had briefed Vance about Thatcher’s misgivings about a CTB and particularly the construction of more than one NSS in the United Kingdom. Given her “ingrained” suspicions about the Soviet Union and her predisposition “to give greater weight to defence preparedness and less to arms control,” Brewster contended that “it would be useful for the President to review with Mrs. Thatcher the range of complexity the U.S. and its allies face on the world scene by a frank statement of the U.S. approach to East-West relations,” especially on the CTB issue. The recent “slight signs that the Soviets are beginning to show greater flexibility” on the NSS, Brewster said, validated her government’s “firmness” on the issue. (Telegram 23716 from London, November 29; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790550–0566)
  3. See Document 236.