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1982: Ceasefire agreed in Falklands

VIDEO : A triumphant Margaret Thatcher greets the press

AUDIO : Max Hastings witnesses the ceasefire

AUDIO : "The island is still..."

A ceasefire between British and Argentine forces on the Falkland Islands has been agreed, the prime minister has announced.

Margaret Thatcher made the statement to a packed House of Commons. The news was cheered by MPs from all parties.

More than 800 people have died since the first British warships reached the remote UK territory on 22 April, 20 days after Argentina invaded South Georgia.

BBC correspondent Brian Hanrahan reported at 1530 local time (2030 BST) that British troops had been ordered not to use their weapons except in self-defence.

"There are reported to be flying white flags over Port Stanley"

UK PM Margaret Thatcher

Negotiations for the surrender of the Junta's army on the islands are now being held between their commander, General Mario Menendez, and British second-in-command Brigadier John Waters.

It is hoped the documents will be signed within the next 24 hours.

Mrs Thatcher told the Commons land forces commander Major-General Jeremy Moore had decided to press forward to the capital last night after a series of successful attacks on enemy troops.

"Large numbers of Argentine soldiers threw down their weapons - there are reported to be flying white flags over Port Stanley," she said.

British control

The prime minister was welcomed outside Downing Street by a jubilant crowd cheering and singing when she returned from Westminster.

Mr Hanrahan - who is with the UK troops close to the frontline - said the Falklands felt strangely quiet after weeks listening to the noise of war.

"The sound of the heavy guns, the bombs, the machine-gunning is gone. The island is still and once again Stanley is under British control," he said.

The Falklands War is the result of years of disputed ownership of the islands.

Argentina says it inherited the Islas Malvinas from the Spanish crown in the early 19th century. The country also bases its claim on the islands' proximity to the South American mainland.

The UK argues that most of the British-descended islanders want to stay British. Its case also rests on the country's long-term administration of the territory.

In Context
Hostilities officially ceased on 20 June 1982. The war cost the lives of 655 Argentine and 255 British servicemen.

The victory greatly boosted the popularity of Margaret Thatcher's government which went on to win the next election.

Argentine president General Leopoldo Galtieri was deposed and served three years in prison for military incompetence.

In October 1983 Argentina returned to civilian rule but it was 1990 before full diplomatic relations with Britain were restored.

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