Argentina and the British-ruled Falkland Islands ended a 17-year standoff today, resuming air links severed after the Falklands War and restoring an "element of trust" between London and Buenos Aires.

Argentine Foreign Minister Guido di Tella said an agreement between Britain, the Falklands and Argentina to lift an embargo on visits to the archipelago by Argentine passport holders and flights from the mainland heralded a new era of relations.

Di Tella said Chile agreed to lift its ban on flights to the Falklands that it imposed after Britain arrested former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet last October.

"For us it is a very important day, particularly in our relations with Great Britain," di Tella said at a news conference at Britain's Foreign Office. "[The accord] is evidence of the beginning of an element of trust."

But British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook stressed that "there is nothing whatsoever in this agreement which compromises the position either of Britain or Argentina in relation to sovereignty."

Argentina has claimed "Las Malvinas" since 1833.

In 1982, its military rulers sent in troops to enforce Argentina's sovereignty claim.

But the invasion force surrendered to a British task force after a 10-week war in which 1,000 British and Argentine servicemen died.