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Saturday, March 13, 1999 Published at 05:59 GMT

World: Americas

Charles shows 'commitment' to Falklands

Enduring images: British troops escape HMS Sir Galahad

Prince Charles will arrive in the Falklands on Saturday morning for a flying visit intended to underline the UK's commitment to the islands.

The BBC's David Jamieson: "One of the most significant points on a controversial trip"
The trip to the Falkland Islands is the last leg of Charles's eight-day trip to Latin America and the greeting he will receive from the 2,200 islanders is likely to be in sharp contrast to the flag-burning protests he left behind in Argentina.

On Wednesday, riot police in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires had to use tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of demonstrators angry at the prince's call to allow the Falklands to live peacefully under British rule.

[ image: Prince Charles delivers his controversial speech]
Prince Charles delivers his controversial speech
More than 200 British troops and 650 Argetines died in the short, bitter conflict to end Argentina's invasion of the Falklands in 1982.

The issue of sovereignty over the islands has been an area of controversy between the two countries ever since, but in recent years they have agreed to put the dispute aside and concentrate on other matters, like trade.

[ image: Protesters told the
Protesters told the "pirate prince" to go home
But it is precisely the Falklands' disputed sovereignty that warrants a visit to one of the UK's most remote territories by the heir to the British throne.

It is clearly intended as a statement to both Argentina and the islanders of an ongoing commitment to the islands' defence and self determination.

Shortly after arriving at the Falklands' Mount Pleasant airport - after a visit to Uruguay on Friday - the prince will lay a wreath at the 1982 Liberation Monument in the capital Stanley.

[ image: The Falkland's Liberation Memorial]
The Falkland's Liberation Memorial
There are no plans for any formal speeches, with the point of the prince's visit being to meet as many of the islanders face to face as possible. He will be travelling to every part of the Falklands using a helicopter for speed.

The Falkland Islands still refuse to admit Argentine nationals except for visits to war graves, although that stance may soften after a recent gesture of goodwill by Argentina to help remove 18,000 mines left over from the conflict.

Charles's last engagement in Uruguay before flying on to the Falklands was to watch an exhibition football match between the Uruguayan Under 20 side and a national youth team.

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