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Argentina, Britain agree to identify bodies of soldiers on Falklands
December 20, 2016 / 10:45 PM / 10 months ago

Argentina, Britain agree to identify bodies of soldiers on Falklands

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina and Britain agreed on a framework to identify the bodies of dozens of unknown Argentine soldiers buried on the disputed Falkland Islands, Argentina’s Foreign Ministry said in on Tuesday.

A tombstone bearing the phrase "Argentine soldier only known by God" is seen at the Argentine cemetery in Darwin March 11, 2012. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

The two countries, which went to war over the islands in 1982 and have had strained relations for decades, also agreed to try to increase the number of flights to the remote islands.

Britain has been keen to improve relations with Argentina since pro-business President Mauricio Macri took over from Cristina Fernandez in December, although Argentina continues to claim sovereignty over the islands.

Under the agreement signed by British Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan and Argentina’s Vice Foreign Minister Pedro Delgado, forensic experts from the International Committee of the Red Cross will take DNA samples from the soldiers’ bodies.

They will then compare the DNA with that of consenting relatives, the statement said. There are 123 unknown soldiers buried in the Falkland Islands, though not all families of the deceased have given consent for DNA testing.

More than 600 Argentines and 255 British servicemen were killed after Argentina seized the islands and Britain sent a task force to retake them, sparking the conflict.

Both countries also agreed to consult with airport authorities in Brazil and Chile to link more flights to the islands, located about 435 miles off the coast of southern Argentina. The overwhelming majority of the islands’ 3,000 inhabitants say they want the islands to remain a British overseas territory.

Only one monthly flight reaches the Falkland Islands currently, departing from Chile with a stop in the Patagonian city of Rio Gallegos.

Britain and Argentina agreed in September to work toward removing restrictions on the oil and gas, shipping and fishing industries around the islands.

Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Writing by Caroline Stauffer

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