The Papal envoy's peace mission to South America to avert war between Chile and Argentina over ownership of the Beagle Island reached a successful conclusion on Monday (8 January).
The Papal envoy's peace mission to South America to avert war between Chile and Argentina over ownership of the Beagle Island reached a successful conclusion on Monday (8 January). Cardinal Antonio Samore spent two weeks discussion the dispute with the Argentine and Chilean governments in Buenos Aires and Santiago. On Monday Foreign Ministers from the two countries met on neutral ground in the Uruguan capital of Montevideo and signed a provisional peace agreement which was witnessed by Cardinal Samore.
SYNOPSIS: The decision to hold the meeting in Montevideo's Palacio Taranco came after months of tension between the two countries over the three islands in the Beagle Straits. The Argentine Foreign Minister, Carlos Washington Pastor, seated on the left of Cardinal Samore, had met his Chilean opposite number, Hernan Cubillos seated on the right, many times during bi-lateral negotiations last year. When these talks broke down, both countries prepared for a possible war and Pope John Paul the Second decided to send a representative. to try and ease the situation. The provisional accord asked the Pope to mediate in future talks and ruled out the use of force to settle the dispute.
Following the Uruguayan meeting Cardinal Samore held a final session of talks with the Argentine President Jorge Videla and Foreign Minister Pastor in Buenos Aires on Tuesday (9 January). Before leaving for Rome Cardinal Samore told newsmen he believed Chilean and Argentine representatives would go to Rome for further talks within a few weeks.
The century old dispute became serious last year when Argentina rejected a ruling by an international court which awarded the Beagle Islands to Chile. The Argentine government claimed the court had exceeded its area of reference by ruling on a questions of maritime rights. Following Cardinal Samore's peace mission both countries have agreed to consider any settlement suggested by the Vatican but have not committed themselves to accepting the Pope's judgement as binding.