NATO head lauds Cold War combattant Thatcher

NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen added his voice to international tributes to Cold War combattant Margaret Thatcher, the controversial former British prime minister who died Monday aged 87 after a stroke.

"Iron Lady" Thatcher, already hailed by contemporaries around the fall of the Iron Curtain including ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and one-time Polish revolutionary Lech Walesa, was "an extraordinary politician who was a staunch defender of freedom," Rasmussen said in a statement.

The Danish head of the Western military alliance said Thatcher was "a powerful advocate of NATO and the transatlantic bond" who strongly supported NATO values and principles, believed in a strong defence and played a leading role in ending the Cold War."