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Chile Resumes Flights to Falklands

July 15, 1999

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ Chile resumed flights to the Falkland Islands on Thursday, bolstering this week’s landmark accord between Britain and Argentina over the south Atlantic archipelago.

Chile froze flights to the islands on LAN Chile, the country’s flagship airline, April 1, in retaliation for Britain’s refusal to free Chile’s former dictator, Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

But Chile decided the move would boost the agreement reached Wednesday between Argentina and Britain to allow Argentine citizens to visit the islands for the first time since 1982, when the two countries went to war over the Falklands.

The accord is also expected to benefit residents of southern Chile who have developed solid trade ties with the Falklands in recent years, said Foreign Minister Gabriel Valdes.

LAN Chile did not immediately announce a date for the resumption of flights to the islands from the Chilean city of Punta Arenas, near the southernmost tip of South America.

Valdes said his Argentine counterpart, Guido Di Tella warmly praised the Chilean decision. The two ministers will meet over the weekend in Buenos Aires.

But at home, some felt the decision would weaken Chile’s position regarding Pinochet. The former dictator remains under house arrest near London, fighting extradition to Spain where a judge wants to try him on human rights allegations stemming from his 1973-90 reign.

Chile has vainly sought Pinochet’s release, claiming foreign judges have no authority over the ailing general.

``We do not like to give the impression that we do not want to put any more pressure on Britain,″ said Congressman Alberto Cardemil, president of National Renewal, a staunch Pinochet supporter.

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