Argentina and UK are holding their second defense bilateral meeting in Buenos Aires, following on last year's first round held in London which put an end to fourteen years of interruption under the administrations of the Kirchner couple.
Deputy Secretary of International defense affairs, Jose Vila headed the Argentine delegation and Roger Hutton, head of International Security the visiting counterpart.
Joint Search and Rescue operations, SAR, figures significantly in the agenda of the bilateral meeting, and a desk operation was practiced between Argentine and British military personnel at the Puerto Belgrano naval base at the end of February.
The following step is a live exercise in the high seas, with the participation of Argentine and UK vessels and aircraft.
This is particularly important since the Argentine navy is responsible for safeguarding human lives in the South Atlantic, which means implementing SAR operations as mandated by the International Maritime Organization, IMO.
There are three maritime rescue coordination centers in Argentina: Buenos Aires, Puerto Belgrano and Ushuaia. In the Falklands there is a Coordination Sub-center which reports to Ushuaia coordination.
Both sides have agreed in the significance of resuming these joint SAR operations given the increase of cruise vessels in the area extending to Antarctica and the massive presence of fishing vessels in the South Atlantic, outside the EEZ of both Argentina and the Falklands.
Argentina fisheries research institute in Mar del Plata, INIDEP, estimates that anywhere between 250 and 350 fishing vessels operate in mile 201. It must be added that Argentina, UK and the Falklands have resumed the biannual meetings of the Southwest Atlantic scientific sub-committee including joint research cruises to assess the biomass of mainly the Illex squid.
According to Argentine media Mr. Hutton, before the start of the bilateral meetings, also gave a conference at the Argentine National Defense University on domestic and international security. Likewise the agenda of issues to be addressed includes logistics cooperation in Antarctica, personnel exchange, military health services and the possibility that Argentine officers attend the Royal College of Defense Studies. Apparently another issue, but rather low key is the delay in provision of military spares from British suppliers to the Argentine navy.