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Guns and roses: Goldsmith fashions peace from Falklands War weapons

An Argentine goldsmith is creating roses and other artwork from bullets, pistols and even plane parts from the Falklands War as a way of promoting peace between his country and Britain.

Self-proclaimed pacifist Juan Carlos Pallarols is also known for crafting the presidential batons of Argentine leaders and the chalice of Pope Francis.

His latest project, Two Roses For Peace, fuses weapons donated by families of Argentine and British war dead.

"The idea is to transform the material of war into objects of art and peace," Mr Pallarols, 74, said at his workshop in Buenos Aires.

Bullets, shells of FAL rifles, 9mm pistols, anti-aircraft ammunitions, and parts of C-130 Hercules and Mirage III planes have been melted in an oven at Mr Pallarols' workshop, where he turns them into stems and petals of roses paying homage to the war dead.

"The airplane bullets are an excuse," he said. "What I want is to fuse the hearts and love of the people.

"I want love to fuse. That will be the real success of all of this."

The 1982 war claimed the lives of 649 Argentines and 255 British soldiers.

Veterans and families of the dead on both sides have agreed to place one of the roses at a cemetery for Argentine soldiers and another at a cemetery for British soldiers in the Falklands.

A third will be thrown into the ocean inside a heavy lead box so it will sink at the same co-ordinates where the Argentine ship General Belgrano was sunk by British torpedoes, killing more than 300 of its crew members.

A fourth rose will be taken to Bahia Agradable, or Pleasant Bay, the location of bloody fighting during the war, and the last one will remain in the local cemetery of the island, in memory of three civilian women killed during the conflict.

The Falklands are internally self-governing, but Britain is responsible for defence and foreign affairs.

Argentina claims Britain has occupied the islands illegally since 1833, but Britain disputes the claim and says Argentina is ignoring the wishes of the 3,000 residents who wish to remain British.

During her eight years in power, Argentina's former president Cristina Fernandez tried to pressure the UK into sovereignty talks by turning away British ships, encouraging companies to divest from Britain and raising other trade barriers.

But tensions have eased since pro-business president Mauricio Macri took office last year, vowing a less-confrontational stance.

In a surprising breakthrough after decades of strained relations, Argentina and Britain recently agreed to launch a multinational forensics team that will identify the remains of more than 100 Argentine soldiers buried in a cemetery after the war.

Both countries also agreed to lift some restrictions on trade and increase the number of flights to the islands.

"We have so many things in common with the (British)," Mr Pallarols said.

"If we were to take out everything from Argentina that is influenced by the English, we'd be left very sad, we wouldn't have football, polo, rugby, and rock!

"It's better to be friends and not fight at all."

AP

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