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Britain readies showdown with European partners

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher faced a tough political battle Monday with the nine other European Community nations over how the organization should be financed. The community's leaders began a crucial two-day summit with bankruptcy looming for the 26-year-old organization unless an agreement is reached.

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Carrying on a struggle she began in 1980, Mrs. Thatcher was determined to get an agreement that would sharply limit Britain's membership dues into the 1990s, a demand that has drawn stiff opposition from the other EC nations. With elections due in June for the European Parliament at Strasbourg, both sides are loath to lose face by giving in to the other.

Mrs. Thatcher has warned, however, that unless her demands are met at this conference, she will veto a move to increase the taxes the community needs to meet the skyrocketing cost of farm subsidies.

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