Kissinger to Attend Thatcher’s Funeral as Obama Stays Away
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger will attend the funeral of Margaret Thatcher tomorrow as President Obama said he will stay away.
Former secretaries of state George Shultz and James A. Baker III, who both served under Republican President Ronald Reagan, will lead the U.S. delegation sent by Obama, the White House said in a statement. Kissinger’s attendance was announced by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s office in London today.
Reagan was Thatcher’s closest Cold-War ally during her term in office between 1979 and 1990. Republican former Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne will attend, Cameron’s office said.
Nobel Prize-winner Kissinger orchestrated the opening of relationships with Communist China in the 1970s. Thatcher strengthened ties with another branch of Communism in former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, 82, a man she said she “could do business with.” Gorbachev will not attend because of ill health.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not be attending, spokesman Nick Merrill said in an e-mail today.
Asked if Cameron thinks the U.S. had snubbed the U.K., the prime minister’s spokesman, Jean-Christophe Gray, said “absolutely not.”
“The seniority of the dignitaries in the U.S. delegation that includes two former secretaries of state with whom Lady Thatcher worked with very closely herself, is testament to her global stature,” he said.
Argentina’s ambassador to the U.K., Alicia Castro, has declined an invitation to attend, Gray said. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was not invited.
The move underlines the continuing tension over the Falkland Islands, which Kirchner has pressed Britain to give up and which Argentina invaded in 1982. More than 700 troops from U.K. units that fought in the Falklands War will line the route of the funeral procession, giving the event a martial feel.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, are sending their foreign ministers, Guido Westerwelle and Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, to the service in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, their governments said. Merkel signed a book of condolence for Thatcher at the British Embassy in Berlin April 11, describing her as “one of the great political figures of the 20th century.”
Former justice minister Elisabeth Guigou will represent France, which currently has a socialist administration.
Canada’s Stephen Harper, Mario Monti of Italy and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk are among the most prominent guests whose attendance has been confirmed so far.
Thatcher-era German Chancellor Helmut Kohl declined an invitation to attend the funeral because the trip would be too strenuous, his spokeswoman, Marion Scheller, said by phone today. Kohl, 83, is wheelchair-bound.
More than 2,000 invitations have been sent out for the funeral, the biggest for a political leader in Britain since that of Winston Churchill in 1965.
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