UK, Argentina Aim To ‘Strengthen Relations’ After Election

Mauricio Macri

Britain’s David Cameron and Argentina’s president-elect Mauricio Macri (pictured above) agreed to “strengthen relations” between their countries after a phone call Thursday, Downing Street said.

Britain and Argentina have long had tense ties due to their territorial dispute over the Falkland Islands, known in Spanish as Las Malvinas.

Macri, who was elected Sunday promising economic reforms and seeking foreign investment, says he wants “good relations with all countries”.

Cameron’s Downing Street office said he had called Macri to congratulate him.

“The leaders agreed that this was an opportunity to strengthen relations between the UK and Argentina and to develop existing trade and investment links,” a statement said.

“Acknowledging the differences between the two countries, both leaders agreed the need to pursue a path of open dialogue and to work towards a stronger partnership.”

Tensions between Britain and Argentina came to a head in 2012 when Macri’s leftist predecessor Cristina Kirchner and Cameron clashed at a G20 summit after she tried to hand him a package of papers relating to the disputed islands and he refused it.

Argentina claims it inherited the remote, wind-swept Falkland Islands from Spain when it gained independence while Britain says it has historically ruled them and that the islanders should have the right to self-determination.

In a 2013 referendum, 99.8 percent voted to remain a British overseas territory.

The 1982 Falklands War claimed the lives of 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British soldiers and three islanders.