Britain, Argentina Restore Ties Despite Falklands Dispute
LONDON (AP) _ Britain and Argentina renewed diplomatic ties severed nearly eight years ago over the Falklands War, but Argentina said it would keep pressing its claim over the islands.
Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd of Britain praised the accord reached Thursday in Madrid, Spain after two days of talks.
″It underlines the fact that we have no quarrel with Argentina, and this has been achieved without any sacrifice of sovereignty,″ he said on Britain’s private Sky Television.
Foreign Minister Domingo Cavallo of Argentina said Thursday’s accord ″means passing from a state of war to a state of peace.″
In Buenos Aires, President Carlos Menem said the accord opened up trade possibilities for Argentina, a major meat exporter. It followed the resumption last month of direct air service between the two nations, who traditionally were heavy trading partners.
Menem also named Deputy Foreign Minister Mario Campora, nephew of former president Hector Campora, as the ambassador to Britain.
Menem, however, repeated Argentina’s claim to sovereignty of the South Atlantic islands 300 miles off his country’s southeastern coast. He said its claim was not diminished by restoring diplomatic ties.
The Falklands War broke out after Argentine forces invaded the British- ruled islands on April 2, 1982. Britain sent a military task force that recaptured them after a 74-day war.
The fighting claimed the lives of 712 Argentines, 255 Britons and three islanders.
Britain began ruling the islands as a colony in 1833 after Spain ceased to govern Argentina and abandoned the archipelago.
Argentina claims it inherited the islands under the name Las Malvinas from Spain and says Britain stole them.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has refused to discuss Falklands sovereignty with Argentina. In turn, Argentina refused until Thursday to declare the war officially over.
U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar applauded the accord, saying it ″creates an atmosphere of confidence.″
Talks between British and Argentine officials on resuming normal relations began in August after Menem said Argentina would not use them to raise its claim over the Falklands.
A key to the Madrid agreement was Britain’s agreement to lift its 150-mile military protection zone around the islands. British submarines, ships and planes have patrolled the zone.
The islands are guarded by about 2,000 British troops.
The British Foreign office said the two nations had agreed to inform each other about movements of their warships and military aircraft in key areas of the South Atlantic and give notice of large military exercises.
Under the arrangement, Argentine warships wishing to come within 50 miles of the islands and Argentine warplanes wishing to come within 70 miles must give 48 hours warning.
The Foreign Office said ambassadors will be exchanged ″in due course.″
Hurd said: ″It is for the Falkland Islanders to decide on their own contacts with the mainland (Argentina).″
Most of the 1,900 islanders are fiercely pro-British. Their legislative council refused an invitation to join the Madrid talks.
William Fullerton, governor of the islands, told British television’s Channel 4 News from Stanley, the capital: ″They accept that there should be good relations between Britain and Argentina.″
He added, ’The thing they would be worried about is the sovereignty issue, and all along that has been specifically excluded from the talks.″