Britain's Margaret Thatcher in 1981: No panda on my plane

LONDON — It seems former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher took a dim view of panda diplomacy.

Newly released government files revealed Friday that Thatcher rejected a London Zoological Society proposal that she allow a male panda to fly on her plane when she made an official visit to Washington in 1981.

The panda was sought by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington so he could mate with a female panda given to the United States by China.

London Zoo's director suggested that Thatcher could help Anglo-American relations by bringing the panda to the U.S., but the "Iron Lady" was having none of it.

Her private secretary said Thatcher wanted no part of the scheme and declared: "Pandas and politicians are not happy omens!"

Thatcher said the zoo should arrange the panda delivery.

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