Agreement to move forward on Malvinas soldier identifícation inked

Agreement to move forward on Malvinas soldier identifícation inked

Buenos Aires, London also push on with more flights to islands after two days of talks

Argentina and the United Kingdom have put pen to paper on a framework agreement to identify the bodies of dozens of unknown Argentine soldiers buried on the disputed Malvinas Islands, with an initial visit by the International Committee of the Red Cross (1CRC) to the islands expected next year to collect DNA samples.
In June of this year, a special ICRC mission visited to the islands as a preliminary step to moving forward on the identification of the remains of soldiers killed during the Malvinas War who were buried on the islands. There are currently 237 fallen servicemen buried at the war cemetery, 123 of whom remain unidentified in anonymous graves bearing the words 'Argentine soldier known only to Cod." A follow-up meeting in Ceneva earlier this month paved the way for the agreement, signed this week in London by brandnew Deputy Foreign Minister Pedro Villagra and his counterpart Sir Alan 1 Duncan, Minister for Europe and the Americas.

Duncan and Villagra met for two days to review the efforts since the September 13 Joint Communiqué published during Duncan's visit to Buenos Aires.

The UK has been keen to improve relations with Argentina since probusiness President Mauricio Macri took over from Cristina Fernandez in December, a position reciprocated by Buenos Aires as it has sought to take the bilateral relationship beyond the sovereignty dispute. Both London and Buenos Aires have made it clear that their respective positions on the Malvinas have not changed despite the recent rapprochement.
According to the agreement, the ICRC will head up a team of forensic specialists that will include the participation of two Argentine experts to collect the DNA. Samples will then be cross-checked with those submitted by family who have volunteered to participate in the process.

As part of the process, Argentine officials will be verifying that all of the families who earlier expressed their consent remain interested in participating, in addition to any families who previously had not done so.
Efforts to identify those slain have been ongoing for the last few years and date back to the Fernandez de Kirchner presidency.

Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, who has been calling for an increase in people-to-people contact and a "soft" link with the local population on the islands, has advocated cooperation on this matter as a way to break down barriers with the islanders.

 

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Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, who has been calling for an increase in people-to-people contact and a "soft" link with the local population on the islands, has advocated cooperation on this matter as a way to break down barriers with the islanders.

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MORE FLIGHTS ON THE CARDS

In that vein, as part of the discussions between Duncan and Villagra, both countries also agreed to consult with airport authorities in Brazil and Chile to link more flights to the islands, located about 700 kilometres offshore from Rio Callegos, Santa Cruz province. Only one monthly flight reaches the Malvinas Islands currently, departing from Chile with a stop in Rio Callegos.According to the Foreign Ministry, both Ixjndon and Buenos Aires will be liaising with airport authorities in Brazil and Chile to determine the feasibility of commercial flights to the Malvinas that will have a layover in continental Argentina.

Statements released by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Malvinas government stated that progress had been made on the prospects of exchanging information on fisheries stocks in the South Atlantic, which could commence next year. 'J'lic UK and Argentina agreed in September to work toward removing restrictions on the oil and gas, shipping and fishing industries around the islands as well as to work toward increasing commercial flight connectivity. The meetings in London were aimed at fleshing out at least parts of that agreement.

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