Argentina: valedictory despatch by Anthony Williams, HM Ambassador, Buenos Aires

  • Catalogue ref: FCO 7/4077
  • Date: 1982 January 1 - 1982 December 31

Anthony Williams, Britain's ambassador to Argentina from 1980 to 1982, wrote this valedictory despatch in the aftermath of the Falklands war, concluding that 'all that I had laboured to achieve now lies in ruin'. But he warned against viewing Argentina as 'just another 'Banana Republic' and stated that 'If Galtieri had been no better than a Somoza, he would not have got decent men like Nicanor Costa Mendez or Enrique Ros, to work for him'. Williams defended his Embassy's actions in the lead up to the conflict but admitted that it was a 'humbling experience' for a diplomat to return home to find 'how little his interpretations and explanations, his predictions and warnings seem to have penetrated to those who have actually taken the decisions in his field'. The despatch caused a degree of consternation at the Foreign Office and was described as a 'bitter' despatch from a man who could not accept that he had been 'misled' by the Argentines. It was given only a limited distribution as a result.

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Falkland Islands crisis: Argentine invasion

  • Catalogue ref: FCO 7/4490
  • Date: 1982 January 1 - 1982 December 31

This file contains a rapid sequence of telegrams exchanged between the Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, and the Governor of the Falkland Islands, Rex Hunt, opening on 31 March and building up to the Argentine invasion on 2 April. The telegrams detail the sequence of events which led to the fall of Port Stanley. The file also includes Rex Hunt's personal account of the invasion, dated 3 April.

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Falkland Islands conflict: the sinking of Argentine cruiser the General Belgrano

  • Catalogue ref: FCO 7/4522
  • Date: 1982 January 1 - 1982 December 31

This file begins with a telegram from Francis Pym, Foreign Secretary, to the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York, giving the first news of the sinking of the Argentine Cruiser General Belgrano by the submarine HMS Conqueror on 2 May.  Francis Pym defended the submarine's actions and wrote that 'although the incident took place outside the TEZ [Total Exclusion Zone] it was in accordance with the rules of engagement as agreed on 2 May'. The file also contains a note of a discussion made at the NATO Eurogroup Ministerial Dinner in Brussels on 5  May by Kevin Tebbit, Secretary to the Eurogroup: 'the political decision was taken by a group of Cabinet Ministers, chaired by the Prime Minister, to attack the General Belgrano which was closing in on the task force'. However, P J Weston, Head of the Defence Department at the FCO, queried this account: 'I have not been able to find any record in the minutes of the OD (SA) for such a decision. It had been my understanding that the sinking of the Belgrano had followed a decision by Ministers over the weekend in question that existing ROEs [Rules Of Engagement] should be relaxed in such a way as to permit our SSNs [Ship Submersible Nuclear: Fleet Submarines] to attack Argentine warships whether or not within the TEZ, but without specific reference to the Argentine cruiser...the Belgrano had not entered the TEZ but was heading in a South Westerly direction when the attack took place'.

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Falkland Islands conflict: Vatican reactions

  • Catalogue ref: FCO 7/4572
  • Date: 1982 January 1 - 1982 December 31

This file contains Pope John Paul II's correspondence with Mrs Thatcher and Ronald Reagan on the subject of the Falklands War. The file also details efforts on the part of the Foreign Office to avoid a cancellation of the Pope's planned visit to the UK including a letter from Foreign Secretary Francis Pym to the Holy See and a meeting between Cardinal Hume, Sir Michael Palliser and Sir Anthony Acland. There is also a description of a meeting between Mrs Thatcher and Cardinal Casaroli at which the Falklands was the main topic of conversation.

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Falklands Islands: HMS Endurance

  • Catalogue ref: FCO 7/4924
  • Date: 1982 January 1 - 1982 December 31

Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington had already raised the issue of the planned withdrawal of HMS Endurance from the Royal Navy in June 1981, arguing that it was important to maintain Britain's presence in the Falkland Islands area. This file shows that Lord Carrington continued to pursue the issue with the Secretary of State for Defence, John Nott, in the period January to March 1982, with Nott adhering to the line that there was no provision in the defence budget to enable a reprieve for HMS Endurance.

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New York, valedictory despatch by Sir Anthony Parsons, the Permanent Representative from the United Kingdom to the United Nations

  • Catalogue ref: FCO 58/2750
  • Date: 1982 January 1 - 1982 December 31

Anthony Parsons was the UK's permanent representative at the United Nations from 1979 to 1982. On stepping down, he recorded his impressions in a despatch to Foreign Secretary Francis Pym. He wrote that the United States was regarded with a mixture of 'exasperation, frustration and contempt' and that third world delegates had been 'shocked, alarmed and outraged by the incompetence, amateurishness, and paralysing lack of co-ordination of the US Mission, State Department and White House'. Britain, meanwhile, continued to be held responsible for many of the 'intractable and bloody crises which permeate the organisation'. 'Our Achilles heel', he wrote, was 'our closeness to the South African regime…and our economic weakness'. Parsons also bemoaned the 'stupefying boredom' and 'endless frustration' of UN diplomacy and the sense that 'a feeling of total futility permeates the whole (UN) building'.

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