As Prince William began his ten-week Raleigh International expedition to Southern Chile, the Chilean Government renewed its invitation to his father, the Prince of Wales, to carry out his visit cancelled last year when Anglo-Chilean relations were strained by General Pinochet's detention in the United Kingdom.
Both Britain and Chile have also renewed so far unfulfilled invitations for the British Prime Minister Tony Blair to visit Chile and for President Lagos to visit the United Kingdom. Other visits are also in prospect by the Foreign Office Minister of State responsible for Latin American affairs, John Battle, Chilean Defence Minister Mario Fernandez, and British Defence Minister of State, Baroness Symons.
These proposed visits are all part of growing efforts to promote good relations after the setback caused by ex-President Pinochet's detention which influenced the decision to disrupt LanChile flights to the Falklands Islands, which were resumed after his release. This recovery of warmer diplomatic relations has been boosted by the official visit to London of Chile's Foreign Minister, Maria Soledad Alvear, and her two days of talks (on October 2 and 3) with four British Cabinet Ministers, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers, International Development Secretary Claire Short, and Cabinet Secretary Marjorie Mowlam.
A Joint Government Statement said the two Foreign Secretaries agreed it was in the interests of both countries to take concrete action to deepen relations. They said they welcomed the close historical links and strong economic ties and similarity of outlook on important global issues. Foreign Minister Maria Soledad Alvear confirmed that President Lagos has accepted the invitation to visit London.
The two Foreign Ministers agreed that Chile and the United Kingdom should resume political dialogue on global and international economic and financial issues, including protection of the environment, weapons non-proliferation, policy planning, modernisation and, the communiqué significantly said, "human rights", the issue on which Senator Pinochet was arrested, on a Spanish warrant for extradition alleging breaches of the international torture convention.
The Foreign Ministers also agreed the that Britain and Chile should develop co-operation on "defence, education, health, governance, financial services and regulation", and negotiate agreements on double taxation and social security. Britain, as a major member of the European Union, pledged its support in neg