Sunday, November 30th 2008 - 20:00 UTC

Anniversary of papal action that stopped Argentina-Chile war

Brazilian cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer will represent Pope Benedict XVI in the ceremony honouring the 30th anniversary of the Vatican's mediation between Chile and Argentina which avoided a full fledged war over the Beagle channel and adjoining islands in the extreme south of the continent.

The ceremony will take place in Mount Aymond, Argentina next December 5, according to an official release from the Pope's press office. Argentina's president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Chile's Michelle Bachelet will also be present at the special commemoration. Cardinal Scherer will be travelling with the apostolic nuncios from Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile, Adriano Bernardini and Giuseppe Pinto. The Argentine church will be represented by Juan Carlos Romanin, Rio Gallegos bishop and Francisco Javier Prado Aranguiz, Rancagua's emeritus bishop. Cardinal Scherer is scheduled to bless the founding stone of a monument to commemorate the papal mediation to be built at Mount Aymond and will read a message from Benedixt XVI. On December 5th presidents Cristina Fernadez de Kirchner and Michelle Bachelet will unveil a plaque in Punta Arenas to honour the memory of Pope John Paul II. The papal mediation in late 1978 and personal pleading to the then two military dictators, Generals Jorge Videla and Augusto Pinochet avoided a full fledged conflict between Argentina and Chile over the Beagle Channel. The dispute involved three minor islands and the Beagle channel which links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the Magellan strait, extreme south of the South American continent. Following John Paul II personal intervention both military regimes agreed to begin negotiations with the signing in Uruguay, in January 1979 of the Montevideo Declaration which was to be the cornerstone for the peace and friendship agreement. The treaty was finally signed in 1984, establishing the border lines, on land and sea, between Chile and Argentina in the extreme south of the continent. The treaty in Argentina was ratified by a referendum

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