October 20, 1998
Britain, Argentina to discuss arms embargo end


                  BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) -- Argentine President Carlos
                  Menem and British Prime Minister Tony Blair will discuss at a meeting next
                  week a possible end to the arms embargo against Argentina that Britain
                  imposed after the 1982 Falklands War.

                  Foreign Minister Guido Di Tella told foreign correspondents on Tuesday that
                  Menem's Oct. 27-Nov. 1 visit to Britain would allow Argentina to convey its
                  position that the weapons ban is so inappropriate it is "comic."

                  A British embassy spokesman said arms sales were "one of the areas for
                  negotiation in the meeting between Menem and Blair."

                  One diplomat close to preparations for the visit, the first by an Argentine
                  president to Britain since the 10-week war in the South Atlantic, said it
                  could produce a breakthrough.

                  "There could be an agreement to drop the term 'embargo' and replace it with
                  an export license control regime, like Britain has with the rest of the world,"
                  the diplomat said.

                  Britain maintains a 2,000-member garrison on the islands which Argentina
                  calls the Malvinas and has claimed as its own for 165 years. In 1982 the
                  military junta then in power sent troops to enforce the claim, but they were
                  dislodged by a British expeditionary force.

                  Britain and Argentina restored diplomatic links eight years ago and put the
                  dispute under a diplomatic "umbrella" while forging ahead with business
                  links, which have flourished.

                  Menem, who promised to recover the islands by 2000, is expected to
                  repeat that claim to Blair.

                  Britain's initial position was that the visit, to include lunch with Queen
                  Elizabeth, was "not the occasion" to discuss the Falklands. But Britain now
                  accepts it is on the agenda.

                  "We agreed it was a delicate issue but one which could not be left out. It is
                  easy to deal with because we will repeat our known historical position and
                  the British will reply with their known historical position," said Di Tella.

                  But the minister will tell London the arms embargo "appears comic to us"
                  when Argentina is a special non-NATO ally of the United States and a
                  mainstay of United Nations peacekeeping.

                  "The United States, which I understand has good relations with Britain, has
                  declared us a non-NATO ally. I suppose then that the United States does
                  not consider us a very dangerous country. We see no reason why you
                  should think so," he said.

                  British Deputy Foreign Minister Tony Lloyd, asked about the embargo on a
                  recent visit, said, "None of those factors can underestimate the fact that we
                  did have an extremely bloody conflict in the islands in 1982."

                  Di Tella said the visit was a sign of reconciliation and that Menem's first act,
                  a wreath-laying at Britain's Falklands War memorial on Oct. 28, symbolised
                  the thaw in relations.

                  Armed forces chiefs and veterans from both sides will be present. "I'm not
                  usually a great fan of wreaths but in this case the flowers mean something
                  very deep," said Di Tella.

                  Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.