Boris Johnson lays wreath at memorial to Argentines who died in Falklands War during historic first visit of British Foreign Secretary to South American country in 22 years.
Boris Johnson today laid a wreath at a memorial to the Argentines who died in the Falklands War as he sought to reset diplomatic relations with the South American country.
The Foreign Secretary said the former foes had ‘come a long way’ as he embarked on a three-day mission to revive trade links more than three decades on from the 1982 conflict.
In a sign of thawed tensions, Mr Johnson and his Argentine counterpart Jorge Faurie took part in an unprecedented joint ceremony in the capital Buenos Aires.
They laid wreaths together at Monumento a los caidos en Malvinas - the Monument to the Fallen In the Falklands.
The memorial honours the 649 Argentine troops who died in the two-month-long war, but does not mention the 255 British personnel who lost their lives while liberating the islands.
Argentina's chief of the cabinet of ministers Marcos Pena will next month lay a wreath in St Paul's Cathedral in London to reciprocate the gesture.
Mr Johnson, who is the first British foreign secretary to visit Argentina in 22 years, said: ‘The relationship between the UK and Argentina has come a long way over the past few years and this visit will be an opportunity to build on and enhance ever closer co-operation on trade, investment, cultural ties, tackling corruption and organised crime, and increasing links in science and technology.
´As the UK leaves the European Union, my message is that the UK is open for business. I look forward to a new chapter in our relationship, and booming trade prospects, after the UK leaves the European Union.’
The Falklands are still claimed by Argentina, but since his election as president in 2015, Mauricio Macri has significantly dialled down rhetoric on the issue.
Anglo-Argentine relations were thrust into the deep freeze for more than a decade by the bellicose approach of Mr Macri's predecessors Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Kirchner, who used the islands as a distraction from Argentina's economic woes. The two sides have been increasingly working together, including on a joint project earlier this year that saw the identification of the remains of 90 Argentine troops in unmarked graves on the Falklands.
Around 1,000 British troops are still stationed on the islands, which has a population of 2,560.
In 1990, Argentina and the UK restored diplomatic relations, however, the situation remained tense. Five years ago, in 2013, the islanders voted to remain a British overseas territory.
Mr Johnson tomorrow morning will represent the UK at a meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Buenos Aires, before continuing his tour of South America in Chile.
The Prime Minister is due to visit Argentina later this year for a G20 summit. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, became the first minister to visit in 16 years last summer