The British government maintained its news blackout on military activity in the Falkland Islands today, but a leading British television correspondent with the troops reported tonight, "The British push is really on."
Correspondent Michael Nicholson reported on both television networks that reinforced British troops besieging Argentine occupation forces around the Falkland Islands' capital of Stanley today launched operations of "extraordinary daring," which could shorten the war but cannot be revealed while in progress.
In what has become a standard problem for observers of the Falklands situation, reports from Argentina contrasted with the news in Britain, and it was impossible to confirm either. Washington Post correspondent Jackson Diehl reported from Buenos Aires that Argentina's military command said it was reinforcing its defense lines around Stanley but that British forces surrounding the Argentine garrison had remained "generally static."
The military command said Argentine planes bombed British positions during the night and Argentine artillery fire harassed British troops today.
A military spokesman said later that British warships had bombarded Argentine positions east of Stanley and at Mount Langdon. The spokesman said British reconnaissance flights have been spotted on the northern end of East Falkland Island.
The Argentine government announced that Pope John Paul II will meet with the ruling junta when he visits Argentina this week, in contrast to his visit to Britain during which he avoided meeting with political leaders.
Television correspondent Nicholson said the new British moves were made as more than 3,000 Scots and Welsh Guards and Gurkhas, who landed secretly on East Falkland Island a week ago, linked up with more than 3,000 Royal Marine commandos advancing on Stanley.
The British Defense Ministry finally confirmed today that the reinforcements had come ashore by landing craft and helicopter from assault ships onto the same San Carlos Bay beachhead where British forces first landed more than two weeks ago. They were transferred earlier to the assault ships Fearless and Intrepid from the luxury liner Queen Elizabeth 2, which is now on its way back to Britain with 700 survivors of three British ships sunk during operations near the beachhead.
Reporting that the Scots and Welsh Guards and Gurkhas landed and made their way across East Falkland in extremely cold, rainy and windy conditions, Nicholson indicated that British commanders have been waiting for these reinforcements, as much as a change in weather conditions, for the final push on Stanley.
Neither Nicholson nor the Defense Ministry indicated what the operations of "extraordinary daring" going on at the same time might be.
Most of the advance toward Stanley, the landing of the 3,000 reinforcements taken to the Falklands in the QE2 and probing attacks this week on the outer ring of Argentine defenses around Stanley have been shrouded in secrecy here. Without actually providing false information, British officials have encouraged misleading assumptions by the media and others that might confuse Argentina about British intentions.
In recent days, they have emphasized the inclement, foggy weather in the Falklands, encouraging media speculation that it was delaying the final assault on Stanley.
Asked at a press conference at the end of the seven-nation economic summit in Versailles, France, whether she had any news from the South Atlantic, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, "It is foggy in all senses of the word."
The Associated Press reported from Versailles that French President Francois Mitterrand said the participants "asserted our complete solidarity with the United Kingdom, which has been the victim of aggression in this particular case and whose national interests and national pride have been injured."
Asked about U.S. and European backing for British strategy in the Falklands, Thatcher said, "Those people who do support us have said so and will continue to support us."
Correspondent Diehl reported the following from Argentina:
Argentina's diplomatic efforts in the crisis seemed to reach a pause today following the renewed breakdown of cease-fire negotiations in the United Nations this week.
The special Argentine delegation at the United Nations last week returned here this morning. The government planning secretary, Gen. Jose Miret, who had carried last-minute diplomatic offers from the junta to the United Nations, said that Argentina "never is going to humiliate itself before the pride of Great Britain."