Britain reiterated interest in strengthening relations with Argentina in areas of mutual interest, but also underlined London's position regarding the Falkland Islands remains unchanged, while from Stanley, the Falklands' elected government expressed its willingness to explore a potential cooperation with the Argentine government.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond met on Thursday with the new Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs, Susana Malcorra, in London, an event which was also attended by the Minister of State for the Americas, Hugo Swire. Ms Malcorra is in London participating of the anti-corruption summit.
According to a release from the Foreign Office, the ministers discussed ways to strengthen UK-Argentina relations through increased co-operation in areas of mutual interest, including trade, anti-corruption and tackling the drugs trade.
Following the meeting Foreign Secretary Hammond said he was pleased to have met foreign minister Malcorra with whom he shared a warm, wide ranging discussion.
During their meeting at Davos earlier this year, the Prime Minister and President Macri set out an aspiration to embark on a new phase of relations between our two countries. Foreign Minister Malcorra and I discussed how to take this forward by developing a strong relationship based upon areas of mutual interest, such as increased trade links, combating drugs, crime, and corruption, and closer co-operation on science and technology, pointed out foreign secretary Hammond.
The release also points out that the Foreign Secretary reiterated that the UK’s position on the Falkland Islands remained unchanged, and that the 2013 referendum gave a confirmation of the Islanders’ wish to remain a UK Overseas Territory.
This is the first bilateral meeting between UK and Argentine Foreign Ministers in London since 2002. Prime Minister David Cameron met Argentina’s President Macri in Davos last January when they discussed economic reform; trade and investment; and the Falkland Islands. It was a first approach, following years of tension under the previous Argentine government.
From Stanley, Gilbert House said the Falklands' government was aware the Hammond/Macorra meeting would take place and had been consulted on Falklands-related issues. Likewise it affirmed its willingness to have positive and respectful relations with all South American countries and explore a potential cooperation with Argentina.
The Falkland Islands Government wants a positive and respectful relationship with all countries in South America, and would be willing to explore potential cooperation with the Government of Argentina in areas of mutual interest, said the Islands government.
However it also insisted that foreign secretary Hammond reiterated the UK’s position on the Falkland Islands remained unchanged, the referendum in 2013 sent a clear message that the Islanders’ wanted to remain a UK Overseas Territory.