Falkland talks are revived

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN AND Argentina have started a new phase of bargaining over the Falklands - not over sovereignty, but over a practical deal allowing Argentine passport holders access to the islands in return for a resumption of air links for Falklanders to the outside world.

The move was prompted by Chile's decision in March to halt regular flights by its airline LAN between Port Stanley and Punta Arena in southern Chile, in retaliation for Britain's refusal to release the former dictator General Augusto Pinochet. That left the 2,600 islanders isolated, apart from a single weekly flight to Britain.

This week, the two countries held their first negotiations on the Falklands in two years, in three days of talks in London involving not only British and Argentine ministers, but four of the islands' councillors - the first time that Falklanders and Argentines have met face-to- face across the table.

No breakthrough was achieved, but both sides described the meeting as the friendliest since 1982, and will meet again this summer in New York to try to reach an agreement in principle.