US delegation to Thatcher funeral lacks ex-presidents

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The official US delegation to former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher's funeral will lack ex-presidents but will include two former secretaries of state, the White House said on Monday.

The delegation will be led by two giants of US diplomacy, Republicans George Shultz and James Baker, and include Louis Susman, recently departed ambassador to London and Barbara Stephenson, the current charge d'affaires.

Britain had invited all the surviving US former presidents - Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush - to Wednesday's funeral, as a final testament to the Iron Lady's special relationship with America.

The 2,000-strong guest list will also not include great Cold War figures including former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ex-German chancellor Helmut Kohl who are too ill to attend.

Also absent will be frail first lady Nancy Reagan, wife of late US leader Ronald Reagan, Thatcher's political soulmate.

No immediate details were available as to why no former presidents would attend Mrs Thatcher's funeral and it was unclear whether the absence of US leaders would be seen in Britain as a snub.

US presidents frequently name former officials to lead delegations to funerals. In exceptional cases they are represented by former presidents or on occasion their vice president.

George Bush senior, 88, who was in power for the final years of Thatcher's premiership, spent a prolonged period in intensive care in hospital in recent months.

Jimmy Carter was in office for only a short while alongside Thatcher until his departure in January 1981 after a single term.

His fellow Democrat, former president Clinton came to power in 1993, after Thatcher resigned in 1990, as did George W.

Bush who was in office from 2001 to 2009.

Shultz was secretary of state to Reagan for more than six years while Baker served in the same position for Bush senior, both at key moments of the Cold War and post-Cold War Era.

Republican John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, who paid a warm tribute to Thatcher after her death last week, meanwhile announced his own delegation to the high security funeral.

The team will include Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, and also feature firebrand conservative lawmaker Michele Bachmann, a former presidential primary candidate.

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