Britain and Argentina have signed an agreement to exhume and identify 123 Argentine soldiers buried on the Falkland Islands following mediation by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the British government said.

Graves at the Argentine memorial cemetery on East Falkland Island, known in Spanish as Isla Soledad, carry the inscription: “Soldier only known to God”.

After meeting Argentine Deputy Foreign Minister Pedro Villagra Delgado in London on Tuesday, foreign office junior minister Alan Duncan tweeted: “Pleased to sign ICRC mandate… to identify Argentine soldiers”.

The soldiers died in the 1982 war over the islands between Britain and Argentina — a conflict which killed a total of 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British soldiers and three islanders.

Red Cross personnel have already visited the site in the South Atlantic and carried out a preliminary evaluation, Argentine officials said.

Families of Argentine troops killed in the conflict have long demanded that their loved ones be identified.

The war over the islands, known as Las Malvinas in Spanish, began after Argentine forces occupied them.

Argentina argues it inherited the windswept islands from Spain when it gained independence in the 19th century.

But Britain says it has historically ruled them and that the 3,000 islanders have the right to self-determination.

In a 2013 referendum, residents voted overwhelmingly to remain part of Britain.

After years of testy relations under former leftist governments, Argentina has pursued a cautious rapprochement with Britain under current President Mauricio Macri.

The countries agreed a series of deals in September covering oil, fishing, navigation and trade in and around the islands.

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