Theresa May Theresa May has called on Argentina to discuss running more flights to the disputed Falkand Islands and lifting restrictions on oil exploration in the area.
It was the Prime Minister’s first public overture to Argentina over the fiercely contested islands in the South Atlanticsince she took office last month .
She wrote to Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri in a letter published by Argentine media. He has sought to strengthen his country’s ties with Britain and other foreign powers since he took office in December.
“It is my sincere hope that, where we have differences, these can be acknowledged in an atmosphere of mutual respect and with the intention to act in a way that benefits all those concerned,” May wrote.
“This includes making progress towards new air links between the Falkland Islands and third countries in the region, and the removal of restrictive hydrocarbons measures.”
Currently, the only direct commercial flights connecting the islands to the outside world go via Chile with the South American airline LAN. Most of those flights are forbidden to enter Argentine airspace due to the Falklands dispute.
Under the previous 12 years of leftist government, Argentina restricted hydrocarbon exploration in the zone.
Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra said Macri has also written to May.
“We’ve begun discussing the possibility of establishing new flights. We’ve been exploring ways to do it. It still is not settled,” she said in a statement.
“The United Kingdom has expressed interest in looking at the issue of the hydrocarbon law. Our legal departments are studying the matter,” added Malcorra, who is a candidate for UN secretary general.
Argentina argues that it inherited the windswept islands from Spain when it gained independence in the 19th century.
But Britain says it has historically ruled them and that the islanders should have the right to self-determination.
Britain and Argentina fought a war in 1982 after Argentine forces occupied the islands.
The conflict killed 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British soldiers and three islanders.
Macri has maintained Argentina’s claim to the islands but has softened the tone from the combative approach of his predecessor and political rival, Cristina Kirchner.
He said in July during a visit to Brussels that our claim will never change but hoped for dialogue with Britain on the issue.