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FCO MINISTER IN FALKLANDS FAMILIARISATION VISIT

FCO MINISTER IN FALKLANDS FAMILIARISATION VISIT

By J. Brock (FINN)

The Rt Hon Mr Hugo Swire MP, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has been visiting the Falklands this week. His responsibilities extend to the Falklands and he has said it was a huge privilege and honour to come for a visit. On Wednesday afternoon he held a press conference at Government house where he outlined his programme by saying he has been very favourably impressed on a number of fronts. Mentioning the extraordinary friendliness of the people he met, he went on to speak about his visits to wildlife centres and farms both on West and East Falkland. Sheep and penguins were mentioned especially. Respects were paid at the British War Cemetery in San Carlos at Blue Beach and at the Argentine Cemetery at Darwin.

He has met heads of Department as well as MLAs and Department heads, including the Fisheries and Agricultural Departments. Expressing positive impressions for everything he saw, Mr Swire said he was optimistic about where the Falklands are in terms of their development and the challenges ahead.

Even if you put discussions about hydrocarbons aside I think the future of the islands is very secure, said Mr Swire. A lot has been done to expand services out of Stanley to some of the remote areas, he continued.

Mentioning Education and Health, he returned to hydrocarbons saying that oil development was a big challenge ahead for the Falklands. Managing oil and gas as well as retaining what is unique about the Falklands were considered to be huge challenges, especially when there are pressures from all different areas.

In terms of the British Governments attitude towards the Islands, he said, we are 100% behind the Islands. He went on to say that the referendum settled the issue of what the islanders wanted to do.

We very much regret the continuing bullying and intimidation from Argentina, which we think is unnecessary and counter-productive and we are wholly supportive of the islands and the Government here, he said.



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