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PRANK REAGAN TAPE CAME CLOSE TO MAJOR BUST-UP

A misjudged prank recording that appeared to show US president Ronald Reagan at odds with Margaret Thatcher almost sparked an international incident, confidential documents have revealed.

The tape, supposedly a recording of President Reagan and the then UK prime minister arguing over the Falklands War, was sent to Dutch newspapers during the 1983 British general election.

Submitted anonymously, a transcript claimed the president urged Mrs Thatcher "to control yourself", to which the Iron Lady responded: "We have to use violence (on Argentina). At this moment it is being used to punish them as quickly as possible."

The staccato exchange allegedly began: "R: I urge you to control yourself. That's absolutely necessary, for otherwise the area will be devastated.

"T: Listen, our goals are completely different.

"R: Why was the Belgrano destroyed? The Argentines were leaving at the time."

The audio and attached letter were eventually dismissed as a forgery. Contemporary reports credited the work to punk-rock band Crass, but, in documents released today, the UK government feared at first more subversive forces were at play.

hnews@herald.ie


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