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Argentina lodges protest against planned UK military drills in Falklands

The Argentine government has protested against British military drills to be held on the disputed Falkland Islands. The islands have been a source of tension for the two countries over the past several decades.

Argentina's Foreign Ministry summoned British Ambassador Mark Kent to its office to deliver him a formal note complaining of the military exercise slated to be held on the islands, the ministry said on Friday.

The UK is planning to hold the exercises, which will include the firing of Rapier missiles, from October 19 to 28. Argentina said it opposed "the holding of these exercises on Argentine territory illegally occupied by the United Kingdom."

British officials said the exercises are standard procedure and take place about twice a year.

The two countries fought a brief but bloody war in 1982 after Argentine troops invaded the islands. The ensuing conflict led to the deaths of 649 Argentines, 255 British soldiers and three islanders.

A bump in the road to better relations?

The UK claims to historically own the islands, most of whose inhabitants are British. However, Argentina still claims the islands, which it refers to as the Malvinas.

Buenos Aires has been attempting to improve ties between the two countries since President Mauricio Macri took over from his predecessor, the fiery populist Cristina Kirchner.

Macri has managed to open up new channels of communication with the UK since taking over in December, and the two countries have signed various deals on everything from oil to fishing to navigation.

However, the rapprochement hit a major snag when Macri claimed he had discussed with British Prime Minister Theresa May the possibility of sovereignty for the islands. The government later took back the remarks.

blc/bw (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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