Thatcher funeral snub for president of Argentina

Britain will not invite the Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral next week in a snub likely to deepen a long-running diplomatic dispute over the Falkland Islands.

Thatcher funeral snub for president of Argentina

Thatcher, who died on Monday, led Britain at the time of the 1982 Falklands war, ordering armed forces to repel an Argentinian invasion of the contested South Atlantic archipelago which Argentina calls Las Malvinas.

Just over 30 years later, memories of the conflict remain raw and Fernandez has mounted a campaign to renegotiate the islands’ sovereignty, lobbying Pope Francis on the issue and rejecting a referendum last month in which Falkland residents voted to remain a British Overseas Territory.

A government source told Reuters that every country with whom Britain enjoys “normal” diplomatic relations was being invited to the 87-year-old’s funeral on Wednesday, but that Thatcher’s family had objected to Fernandez being there.

“It’s about adhering to her family’s wishes,” the source said. A government spokesman said Argentina’s ambassador to Britain would be invited, and that was in keeping with protocol.

The Daily Telegraph — without citing its sources — reported that Thatcher’s children Mark and Carol said they felt it would be “inappropriate” for anyone from Argentina to be there after government officials floated the idea.

Argentinian foreign minister Hector Timerman brushed off the apparent snub. “It does not matter to me to be invited to a place where I don’t want to go,” he told a local radio station. “It is another provocation. The woman died, let the family mourn her in peace”.

Members of Thatcher’s ruling Conservative party have hailed Britain’s victory in the Falklands war as one of her greatest achievements and her funeral is expected to follow a Falklands theme.

Invitations to more than 2,000 guests will be sent out today. Mikhail Gorbachev, 82, the last Soviet leader, will not be able to attend because of ill health.

Cameron’s office said invites would be extended to surviving British prime ministers and surviving former US presidents, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and a representative of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will not attend the funeral despite the close links between Britain and Ireland.

The Irish Government will instead be represented by Labour’s Ruairi Quinn who will be among 2,000 to attend the service at St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Enda Kenny and the Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore, will be attending the business of the Dáil which will resume that day.

It’s understood that most other European governments are due to be represented by cabinet ministers rather than by heads of state.

— Reuters

French crux

Right in the heart of Paris, sandwiched between the Champs-Elysees and the River Seine, sits Avenue Winston Churchill.

So why not a Rue Margaret Thatcher, some French politicians are asking. Conservative city councillor Jerome Dubus will propose that the French capital pay homage to Britain’s outspoken former prime minister by naming a street after her at the next council meeting this month.

The president of the council’s communist and far-left party, Ian Brossat, countered with a proposal to rename a square or street for Bobby Sands, the IRA prisoner who died in a 1981 hunger strike to which Thatcher refused to yield.

Meanwhile, the Wizard Of Oz track which has had a surge of popularity in the wake of Thatcher’s death is on course for a place in the top five.

An online campaign has driven sales of Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead, and the latest placings, released by the Official Charts Company, show it had sold 20,000 copies up to last night and is now at number four.

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