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Sunday, March 14, 1999 Published at 21:48 GMT

World: Americas

Charles thanked for Falklands comments

Charles lays a wreath, flanked by a guard of honour

The Prince of Wales has won praise in the Falklands for his controversial speech calling for better relations between the islanders and the people of Argentina.

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell: "Prince's words widely welcomed"
The visit - the first by a Prince of Wales to the South Atlantic islands - is intended to underline the UK's commitment to the Falklands.

At Stanley cathedral, the prince was thanked by the local vicar for his Buenos Aires speech in which he had called for understanding between Argentinians and the Falkland Islanders.

Poor weather meant the prince could not take a helicopter and he had to drive overland to visit Fitzroy and Goose Green battlefields and the British military cemetery at San Carlos Water.

He laid a wreath and stood for a minute's silence at the site of the battle for Goose Green.

Hundreds of Islanders greeted the prince on his arrival in the islands as he laid a wreath at a memorial in memory of the 258 Britons who died in the Falklands war seventeen years ago.

More than 250 British troops and 650 Argentines died in the short, bitter conflict which ended Argentina's invasion of the Falklands in 1982.

The BBC's Jennie Bond: "The first Prince of Wales to visit the islands"
The wreath-laying had particular poignancy for the Prince of Wales, because two of the regiments of which he is commander-in-chief - the Parachute Regiment and the Welsh Guards - fought in the campaign.

The Welsh Guards lost the most men of any regiment engaged in the Falklands conflict after the troop carrier HMS Sir Galahad was hit and set alight by an Argentine missile.

There are no plans for any formal speeches by the prince, with the aim of his visit being to meet as many of the 2,200 islanders face to face as possible.

[ image: The prince receives an emotional welcome]
The prince receives an emotional welcome

The trip to the Falkland Islands is the last leg of Charles's eight-day trip to Latin America - a trip that has been dogged by the issue of sovereignty over the islands.

During his visit to Argentina, riot police in the capital Buenos Aires had to use tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of demonstrators angry at the prince's visit.

Sovereignty has been an area of controversy between the two countries since before the Falklands conflict, but in recent years they have agreed to put the dispute aside and concentrate on closer links in other areas, like trade.

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

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 also visited Uruguay on his trip, between leaving Argentina and arriving in the Falklands.

His last engagement there was to watch an exhibition football match between the Uruguayan Under-20 side and a national youth team at the country's national stadium.

It is hoped that Uruguay, winners and hosts of the first World Cup in 1930, will back England's bid to host the 2006 event.

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