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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:40 pm on 16th April 1986.

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Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:40 pm, 16th April 1986

No, Sir.

The President responded that the operation would be limited to clearly defined targets related to terrorism, and that every effort would be made to minimise collateral damage. He made it clear that, for the reasons I indicated yesterday, he regarded the use of F111 aircraft from bases in the United Kingdom as essential. There are, I understand, no other F111s stationed in Europe. Had we refused permission for the use of those aircraft, the United States operation would still have taken place; but more lives would probably have been lost, both on the ground and in the air.

It has been suggested that, as a result of further Libyan terrorism, the United States might feel constrained to act again. I earnestly hope that such a contingency will not arise. But in my exchanges with the President, I reserved the position of the United Kingdom on any question of further action which might be more general or less clearly directed against terrorism.