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Argentina, Britain agree to identify bodies from Falklands War

By Allen Cone
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Argentina, Britain agree to identify bodies from Falklands War
The British Union Jack (L) and the Falkland Islands flag fly side by side in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, on March 9, 2013. Argentina and Britain agreed Tuesday to identify the bodies of Argentinian soldiers buried on the Falkland Islands after the 1982 war. Photo by Javier Lizon/European Pressphoto Agency

LONDON, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Argentina and Britain have agreed to identify the bodies buried on the disputed Falkland Islands after the 1982 war, both nations' foreign ministers announced.

Forensic experts from the International Committee of the Red Cross will take DNA samples from the soldiers' bodies as part of the agreement signed Tuesday in London by British Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan and Argentinian Vice Foreign Minister Pedro Delgado.

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The DNA will be compared with relatives, according to the Argentinian Foreign Ministry's statement. Not all relatives of the 123 unknown soldiers buried in the Falkland Islands have consented to the testing.

More than 600 Argentinians and 255 British service members were killed after Argentina seized the islands and Britain tried to retake them, sparking the 74-day conflict.

Britain sees better relations with Argentina since President Mauricio Macri took over from Cristina Fernandez in December. Kirchner restricted hydrocarbon exploration around the islands and had barred sea cruisers bound for the Falklands from docking at Argentinian ports.

Argentina still claims sovereignty over the islands but inhabitants primarily want the islands to remain a British overseas territory, including 99.8 percentage support in a 2013 referendum.

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The two countries also agreed to add flights between Argentina and the islands. The southern coast of Argentina is 435 miles from the islands, which include about 3,000 inhabitants. Once a month, a flight reaches the Falklands from Rio Gallegos in Patagonia, Argentina.

In September, Britain and Argentina agreed to attempt to remove restrictions on the oil and gas, shipping and fishing industries around the islands.

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