LONDON: The UK and Argentina have signed a deal to identify 123 Argentine soldiers buried on the Falkland Islands. The International Committee of the Red Cross has been negotiating an agreement on taking DNA samples from the remains of men who died in the 1982 conflict. The graves in the Argentine memorial cemetery, in Darwin, are currently marked as “soldier only known to God”. The two-month conflict saw 649 Argentine soldiers killed, while 255 British service personnel died. The conflict saw a taskforce recapture the British overseas territory in the South Atlantic after an invasion by Argentina. In total, 237 Argentine soldiers are buried in the cemetery. The work on identifying the unknown men is expected to take place between June and August next year, according to a report on the Argentine news agency Telam. Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan signed the deal with Argentina’s deputy foreign minister Pedro Villagra Delgado following talks in London. Writing on Twitter, Sir Alan also said a “way forward” had been agreed on new flights from the Falkland Islands to Latin America.
It comes after Sir Alan held talks with Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri on a visit to Buenos Aires last week. Tensions between Britain and Argentina over the Falklands had flared up under former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. She had restated her country’s demand for sovereignty over the archipelago, known in Argentina as Las Malvinas. In a 2013 referendum, only three Falklands residents out of 1,517 who voted were against remaining British. The Foreign Office has stressed the recent discussions with Argentina do not affect the sovereignty of the islands and says the UK remains “absolutely clear” in its support of the rights of its residents.