Death of Argentina's longest serving Foreign Minister
Dr Guido Di Tella, a key figure in improving relations with the United Kingdom and the Falkland Islands after the 1982 conflict, has died in Buenos Aires of a brain haemorrhage, aged 71. He was taken ill awaiting the New Year celebrations and rushed to hospital but died on December 31st.
He was Argentina's longest ever serving Foreign Minister, from 1991 to 1999 in Carlos Menem's Government, which restored diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom in 1996. He negotiated the controversial July 14 Anglo-Argentina agreement in 1999 in which the Falkland Islands Government reluctantly ended its ban on Argentine visits in force since the 1982 Falklands War (For humanitarian reasons, the Islanders had previously permitted visits only by relatives to graves of the Argentine war dead). Dr Di Tella exploited Britain's detention of former Chilean President General Pinochet at Spain's request on human rights charges. This resulted in Chile's suspension of its air services to the Falklands, exerting pressure on the Islanders to go along with the 1999 accord, in exchange for Argentine promises of more effective co-operation in conservation of South Atlantic fish stocks, vital to the Falklands' booming economy, and to consider dropping the use of Argentine names for Falklands places, though this has not happened. The 1999 Agreement was the culmination of Dr Di Tella's so-called "charm offensive" or seduction of the Islanders, in which he tried to cultivate their friendship and bombarded them with Christmas cards and gifts. He realised his long-time dream of visiting the Falklands in 2000. It was his foreign policy which led to the first official visit of an Argentine President to Britain since the Falklands war when Carlos Menem met the Queen in 1998. Dr Di Tella's charisma, charm and impeccable English won him personal respect and affection and also made him a more effective diplomatic operator, whose diplomatic campaign for Argentine sovereignty over the Falklands never weakened. The son of an Italian immigrant, he was an intellectual and prominent academic, with engineering and economics degrees. Though a fervent anti-Peronist in his youth, he became a convert and served as deputy economy minister in General Juan Peron's government in 1973-1974. After the 1976 military coup he was held prisoner on a ship with Carlos Menem, then spent most of the military dictatorship in the United Kingdom as an academic at Oxford University where he became a visiting Professor. Before his term as