BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) -- Britain's Prince Charles paid
homage Tuesday to Argentine troops who died in the 1982 Falklands
War against Britain.
He shook hands with survivors, who asked him to help them visit Argentine
war graves on the disputed islands.
The British heir to the throne laid a wreath at the monument to Argentina's
652 war dead in downtown Buenos Aires, echoing a similar gesture of
reconciliation by President Carlos Menem at St. Paul's Cathedral in London
Charles kicked off his three-day visit to Argentina with a speech expressing
hope his visit would "help at least in a modest way" bring the old foes closer.
After the Argentine leg of his trip, Charles will visit neighboring Uruguay and
then go to the Falklands themselves.
Seventeen years ago, war erupted when Argentina's military rulers sent
troops to enforce a sovereignty claim to the remote and windswept South
Atlantic islands, which Argentina calls the Malvinas.
Argentina surrendered to a British task force after 10 weeks of
hand-to-hand combat and naval attacks in which about 1,000 servicemen
lost their lives.
Argentina continues to claim the islands, and Menem repeatedly promised
win them back by 2000. But he restored diplomatic links and played host to
British royals, including the late Princess Diana and Charles' brother, Prince
In a sign of warming relations, even Argentine war veterans said the prince
Veteran Cesar Trejo, who traveled to London with Menem, refused to use
the prince's title out of democratic sentiment but said, "It's good for Mr.
Charles to pay homage to our men who fell in the Malvinas, just as we did in
He petitioned Charles for help in allowing Argentines to visit the islands,
which allow only occasional visits to the war graves at Darwin by relatives of
fallen Argentine troops.
"We asked him to use his influence to let us Argentine war veterans hold
ceremony in Darwin together with British war veterans," Trejo said.
The prince and Menem talked privately for an hour. Foreign ministry officials
in Buenos Aires said they did not break protocol by raising the sovereignty
issue, talking instead about the climate of reconciliation.
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.