Thatcher To Bush: `No Time To Go Wobbly'

WASHINGTON - President Bush acknowledges that some blunt advice from Margaret Thatcher helped carry him through the darkest days of the Gulf crisis.

Bush, at a White House ceremony yesterday bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom on the former British prime minister, recalled letting her know that one Iraqi vessel was being allowed through the allied embargo.

``She listened to my explanation, agreed with the decision, but then added . . . words I'll never forget as long as I'm alive,'' Bush said.

`` `Remember, George,' she said, `this is no time to go wobbly.' ''

The East Room audience of 150 broke into laughter and applause.

``We use that expression often and have used it during some troubling days'' at the White House, Bush said. ``And never, ever will it be said that Margaret Thatcher went wobbly.''

Thatcher went to the White House to receive America's highest civilian honor 14 weeks after a Conservative Party rift forced her to quit her post after 11 years.

The allied victory in the Persian Gulf sent ``an awesome warning to any other dictator who sets out to extinguish the rights of others for his own evil gain,'' Thatcher said.

``Like you, Mr. President, I hate violence,'' she told Bush. ``But there is one thing I hate even more: giving in to violence.''