Belfast Telegraph

Philip Hammond visits Argentina focusing on trade not Falklands

Chancellor Philip Hammond will on Wednesday become the first British cabinet minister to visit Argentina in 16 years during a trip expected to focus on trade rather than the thorny issue of the Falkland Islands.

Some UK observers will be keen to see if Mr Hammond raises the Falklands during his meeting with president Mauricio Macri, with Argentina long claiming sovereignty over the British territory.

Tensions between the two countries have calmed under Mr Macri after flaring up under his predecessor Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who was accused in 2015 by then-foreign secretary Mr Hammond of presiding over "bullying and harassment" of Falkland islanders.

But this visit is mainly focused on drumming up business, with the Chancellor leading a trade delegation including representatives from the London Stock Exchange, Crossrail International and the Bank of England.

Mr Hammond will be the first UK Cabinet minister to visit Argentina since 2001, when Tony Blair called for further reconciliation after talks with then-president Fernando De la Rua near the border with Brazil, close to the picturesque Iguazu Falls.

The Chancellor will also meet senior ministers in Buenos Aires and visit British and local businesses driving trade and investment between the two countries, including in the Argentine agribusiness sector.

The Falkland Islands are internally self-governing, but Britain is responsible for their defence and foreign affairs and came to their aid during an invasion by Argentina in 1982.

In a 2013 referendum Falklanders voted overwhelmingly to remain a British overseas territory.

Mr Hammond's trip to Argentina comes after a two-day visit to Brazil.

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