HC Deb 15 June 1994 vol 244 cc624-5
16. Mr. Simon Coombs

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on British relations with Argentina.

Mr. Hurd

We have made some good progress in many areas. There are regular high-level contacts. British exports to Argentina grew by 50 per cent. last year and there are good investment opportunities. We continue to disagree about sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, but we have an agreement on fisheries conservation and we expect to meet the Argentines next month to discuss oil. We also co-operate internationally; for example, British and Argentine troops are working side by side in UN peacekeeping operations, both in the former Yugoslavia and in Cyprus.

Mr. Coombs

May I tell my right hon. Friend of the great pleasure given to the Falkland islanders and to their many friends in this country and around the world by his visit to the islands earlier this year? Does he agree that as long as Argentina retains its claim of sovereignty over the islands, there will inevitably be a black cloud over our efforts to improve relations with it? What part of the Government's policy is it now to persuade the Argentine Government to drop that claim so as to guarantee the long-term safety and security of the Falklands?

Mr. Hurd

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the islands after Easter and I learned a lot from it and from the islanders. My hon. Friend is right: we have managed to make good progress on other matters with the Argentine Government, setting aside the disagreement over sovereignty, which remains.

My hon. Friend is perfectly right to say that, once it is possible for Argentina to drop her claim to sovereignty, the possibilities of co-operation in the south Atlantic, to the benefit of both countries and of the islanders, will be very great indeed.

Mr. Tony Banks

In the event of President Menem requesting the extradition of Baroness Thatcher to face various charges in Argentina, will the British Government give him their full co-operation? I suspect that if they did, it might do something to restore their flagging popularity.

Mr. Hurd

No such request has been made.

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