July 31, 2001

Blair to make history in Argentina

                 BRASILIA, Brazil (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair will
                 make history on Wednesday as he visits Argentina.

                 Blair will become the first serving UK prime minister to set foot on Argentine
                 soil since the two countries went to war in 1982 over the South Atlantic
                 islands the British call the Falklands and the Argentines call Malvinas.

                 On Wednesday, Blair heads to Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian-Argentine border
                 for trilateral talks with Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso
                 and Argentine President Fernando de La Rua.

                 Then Blair and de La Rua will fly from the Brazilian side of the border to the
                 Argentine side for the historic private talks.

                 Blair's visit to Argentina comes nearly 20 years after the two countries were
                 at war. The 74-day war, between April and June 1982, cost the lives
                 of 650 Argentines and 255 Britons.

                 However, British officials have made clear that
                 the sovereignty of the islands will not be discussed at the meeting, and that the
                 main topic will be trade and Argentina's financial crisis.

                 Trade between Argentina and Britain is worth about £400 million, and the
                 Argentine Senate this week approved drastic budget cuts in an attempt to revive
                 the economy and forestall investors' fears.

                 Although this is the first trip by a serving British prime minister since the war,
                 diplomatic ties between the two countries were long since re-established. In
                 1998, then-Argentine President Carlos Menem made an official visit to Britain,
                 paying his respects at a memorial to the British servicemen who died in the war.

                 Two years ago, Britain's Prince Charles was welcomed in Argentina to further
                 ties between the two countries.

                 Tension surrounding the issue of the islands remains high, however. Although
                 Britain retook them in the war, Argentina has never renounced its claims over
                 the islands. The British initially declared sovereignty over them in 1833.

                 On Tuesday, Blair faced protests in Brazil as activists demonstrating over the
                 sale of Amazon forest lumber to Britain broke through a security cordon
                 protecting him in Sao Paulo. One was wrestled to the floor and carried away.

                 Local news agency Agencia Estado quoted the Greenpeace's spokesman for the
                 Amazon, Paulo Adario, as saying the protest was against what he called Blair's
                 failure to keep a promise to help stop illegal trading in rare, tropical wood.

                 Blair arrived in Brazil on Monday after visiting Jamaica and met Cardoso for
                 talks in the capital Brasilia. Later, speaking to British and Brazilian businessmen,
                 he praised increasing trade among regional partners such as the European Union
                 and Mercosur, the South American bloc formed by Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay
                 and Paraguay.

                 In Sao Paulo, the country's financial and economic capital, Blair visited Brazil's
                 Embraer aircraft company.

                 The Brazil-UK trade relationship dates back to the turn of the century, when
                 British companies helped build Brazilian railway bridges.

                 Last year Brazil exported nearly $1.5 billion worth of goods to the UK, with
                 Britain exporting $1.2 billion in goods to Brazil.

                 On Sunday, Blair met Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson and Caribbean
                 leaders on Sunday. They discussed increasing trade and cultural ties, and Blair
                 announced a £200,000 ($285,400) police training package to help drugs and
                 gang and street violence -- problems that have spilled over onto British streets.