Falkland Islands' weekly Penguin News has received confirmation from the British Forces South Atlantic Islands Headquarters that earlier this week United Kingdom and Argentina held defense talks for the first time in over ten years. This week's PN reported on the front page that the Argentine newspaper Clarin released the story on the defense talks, but had no British defense confirmation to its request at the time of going to print.
However on Thursday afternoon the Command Secretary from BFSAI told the Penguin News: “The talks took place in Ministry of Defense main building and were chaired by DG Security Policy and Operations, Mr Dominic Wilson who reiterated the importance of the Defense relationship between the two countries. The Argentine MOD’s chair, Undersecretary of International Affairs, Sr Jose Vila expressed his gratitude for the UK’s support to the multinational search operation following the tragic loss of submarine ARA San Juan at the end of last year and for the UK’s work in support of the ICRC’s identification of the unknown Argentine soldiers buried on the Falkland Islands. The talks took place under the sovereignty umbrella and both Chairman believed they were positive and commented on the open and honest way they were approached.”
The story in this week's Penguin News reported that the Argentine newspaper, Clarín on Monday announced the opening in London of the first bilateral talks on defense between Britain and Argentina in 14 years.
The writer of the article, Natasha Niebieskikwiat, who is well-known in the Falklands, anticipated that the meetings would be held under the “sovereignty umbrella” following the convention established when both sides resumed diplomatic relations after the war in 1982.
The article states that the meetings which are being held at a location unknown to Clarín will be “guided” by the Argentine Ambassador to London, Renato Carlos Sersale di Cerisano and the British Ambassador to Buenos Aires, Mark Kent.
According to the report, Ambassador Kent travelled to London on Saturday specially to attend these meetings, but will return to Argentina to take part in the next-of-kin visit planned for March 26. Also attending from Buenos Aires is José Luis Vila, Defense Under Secretary for International Affairs.
Diplomatic sources quoted by Clarín claim that the central themes of the meetings will be “peace-keeping operations, generic matters to do with the organization of the same, qualification, exchanges of defense academy courses and training, experience in the treatment of post-conflict situations and thanks for the support given during the search for the submarine ARA San Juan.”
A future agenda for discussion of global matters would be left open and it was hoped that a mechanism for annual meetings could result.’
However it must be said that despite the resumption of formal bilateral defense talks, Argentine and British military have a long working relation under the umbrella of United Nations, as peace keeping forces. This is particularly true in Cyprus where because of the natural rotation of UN commands the Argentine forces have been under British command and alternatively the British with the Argentines.
Likewise Argentina has a Joint Training Center for Peace Operations, CAECOPAZ, in the framework of the United Nations Peace Operations Training Institute, POTI, which receives military personnel from all over the world, including from UK.