10:44 GMT21 October 2020
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    Boris Johnson is expected to make the first visit by a British foreign secretary to Argentina in 25 years in a bid to improve relations with Buenos Aires, which have been marred by the conflict over the disputed Falkland Islands.

    During his five-day visit to Latin America, the British foreign secretary will lay a wreath commemorating those deceased in the Falklands War as Argentine President Mauricio Macri has taken a softer stance on the islands than his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

    “This will be my first visit to the region since becoming foreign secretary. Latin America is a vibrant and dynamic part of the world that works closely with the UK on a number of issues including trade, security, science, infrastructure and education. I am looking forward to strengthening the UK’s relationship with countries in the region,” Johnson said ahead of the visit, as he also plans to travel to Peru and Chile to promote post-Brexit UK.

    Sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, which Argentina calls the Malvinas, in the South Atlantic Ocean has been an apple of discord between Buenos Aires and London; while Argentina lays a territorial claim to it, the UK considers the islands to be a self-governing British overseas territory. In March 2013, the islands’ population almost unanimously voted in favor of remaining under British rule.

    April 2 marked 36 years since the war between Argentina and Britain broke out, with Argentine troops landing on the Falkland Islands, which were annexed by the British Empire in 1833. The months-long war resulted in the death of 649 Argentine soldiers and 255 British, according to UK estimates, as Britain fought to reclaim the islands from troops deployed by then-Argentine president, General Leopoldo Galtieri.

    The fighting ended on June 14 with Argentina’s capitulation and the Falklands’ return under British control.

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    Since the 1982 war, relations between the UK and Argentina have remained hostile and diplomatic ties were restored only in 1989. The British side, however, refuses to negotiate the legal status of the islands: in 2009, then-UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown turned down Argentine President Christina Kirchner’s calls to resume discussions over the Falklands’ status – his stance was later reaffirmed by his successor, David Cameron.


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