Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announces she has asked for Pope Francis’ intervention in the Falklands dispute between her country and the UK.
Visiting the Vatican, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said she had asked Pope Francis to promote dialogue between the two sides.
Argentine Pope Francis was elected last week and will be formally installed as pontiff at a Mass on Tuesday.
In the past Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has said the Falkland Islands, a UK overseas territory, belong to Argentina.
Before being elected as the new pontiff, the 76-year-old was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Relations between him, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and her late husband and predecessor as president, Nestor Kirchner, were tense.
“I asked for his intervention to avoid problems that could emerge from the militarization of Great Britain in the south Atlantic,” Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner told reporters after a 15-20 minute meeting and lunch with the Pope.
“We want a dialogue and that’s why we asked the pope to intervene so that the dialogue is successful.”
There has been no word yet as to how the Pope responded to the appeal.
In a referendum held a week ago, people in the Falkland Islands voted overwhelmingly in favor of remaining a UK overseas territory.
At a Mass last year, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio told Argentine veterans of the Falklands War: “We come to pray for all who have fallen, sons of the Homeland who went out to defend their mother, the Homeland, and to reclaim what is theirs.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron said last week that he “respectfully” disagreed with the view expressed in the past by Pope Francis that the Falkland Islands had been “usurped” by the UK.Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is the first head of state Pope Francis has met. She presented him with a mate gourd and straw for drinking traditional Argentine tea.
The two also kissed, and the president remarked afterwards: “Never in my life has a pope kissed me!”
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner gave a muted welcome to the Pope’s election. The two have clashed in the past, especially over social reforms promoted by her and her late husband in the face of Church opposition.
When the then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio argued that gay adoptions discriminated against children, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said his tone harked back to “medieval times and the Inquisition”.
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner once referred to Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the “head of the opposition”.
Last year, the cardinal said Argentina was being harmed by demagoguery, totalitarianism, corruption and efforts to secure unlimited power, the Associated Press reports.