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Sunday, October 25, 1998 Published at 13:52 GMT


Carlos Menem: Dialogue but no argument

Menem: We are healing the wounds of war

Menem: Conciliatory tone
The Argentinian President Carlos Menem spoke of his hope for reconciliation with the UK and of opening a dialogue on the future of the Falkland Islands when he appeared on the BBC's Breakfast With Frost programme.

The following is a transcript of part of the interview.

David Frost: Presumably, Mr President, the subject of sovereignty over the Falkland islands or the Malvinas will be mentioned. You and Mr Blair can scarcely talk for three or four days without mentioning it. But do you think that it will be fully discussed?

Carlos Menem: I don't think there will be a discussion. Argentina will simply ask for the fulfilment of United Nations resolutions - which means the international community and the UN decolonisation committee in relation to this issue - to open a dialogue not an argument in accordance to those resolutions and those requirements.

Frost: And you said earlier in 1997 that perhaps the answer was that Britain and Argentina should share sovereignty over the islands. Does that still seem the best possible idea for you?

Menem: That's a possibility although there are others about which we will talk better during my visit. I can't say anything until speak with the United Kingdom authorities.

Frost: So really, looking ahead, this is an issue that may be part of the dialogue now but do you think it will take 10 years, 20 years or 100 years before an agreement can be reached?

Menem: I cannot predict the time this dialogue will take. It is a delicate issue and we have to treat it with austerity and reflection. After the 1982 events there were victims on both sides involved in the military conflict. We are healing the wounds caused by those events and therefore it is very important to have a dialogue with great caution.

Frost: And when you mention the healing of the wounds that's one of the reasons why you propose this ceremony of reconciliation where you'll be placing a wreath to commemorate the lives of British soldiers who lost their life in this war?

Menem: Well, yes, of course. This is one way to achieve our aims, to pay tribute to the dead, the victims of both nations, to those who fought in that war. It would be a noble gesture and a gesture of faith in the future.

Frost: Given the importance of this ceremony of reconciliation at St Paul's, were you disappointed that Baroness Thatcher will be abroad in America and will not be able to take part?

Menem: Yes, indeed. I am not exactly disappointed but I regret her absence. When I learned, through the press, that she wouldn't be there I asked my foreign minister to contact the United Kingdom, to the relevant officials to request Mrs Thatcher's presence during the ceremony. But it seems that it would be impossible.

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