Thousands of Maltese turned out to greet Prime Minister Dom Mintoff Sunday night (March 26) on his return home from London after signing a new seven-year agreement with Britain on continued use of the island's bases.
GV PAN clock tower to Union Jack
GV. PAN empty barracks
MV & GV British soldiers outside building (2 shots)
SV PAN building to signs (Keep Out, etc.) (4 shots)
GV Sign welcoming Mintoff at airport
GV People on balcony Waving
MV Mintoff down aircraft stops and greeted
SCU PAN Mintoff across tarmac (2 shots)
MV PAN Mintoff in car past crowd
Crowd with flags and Mintoff's portrait singing in street
GV People in cars waving flags (2 shots)
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Background: Thousands of Maltese turned out to greet Prime Minister Dom Mintoff Sunday night (March 26) on his return home from London after signing a new seven-year agreement with Britain on continued use of the island's bases.
The new accord ends the nine-month old dispute between the two countries which had Britain on the brink of withdrawing its entire military establishment from the island.
Under the agreement, Malta will receive 14-million pounds sterling annually as rent for British use of the bases. The new terms will prevent members of the Warsaw Pact from using any of the island's military facilities.
The agreement was signed as Britain was moving into the final phase of its military pull-out from the island. When Mr. Mintoff left for the signing in London on Saturday, many British bases stood empty except for small details of security guards. The wives and children of British servicemen had been evacuated from Malta surlier in the crisis.
SYNOPSIS: Empty British military barracks on Malta last weekend demonstrated just how close Britain had come to severing its 172-year old ties with the Mediterranean island. The nine-month old dispute dealt with how much Britain should pay the government of Dom Mintoff for continued use of Malta's military facilities. On the same day the new agreement was signed, plans for withdrawing all British troops were continuing on schedule. The seven-year pact will give Malta 14-million pounds sterling in rent for British use of the facilities. News of the Sunday agreement preceded Mr. Mintoff's return home, and the Maltese people treated the Prime Minister to a cheering welcome.
News of the agreement was welcomed throughout the island, under tension for the last three months as Britain started to withdraw its forces. Happy Maltese celebrated in the streets of Valletta as soon as news of the signing was broadcast on the radio
At the airport, crowds grew so thick that the Prime Minister had difficulty motoring home.
The Prime Minister's next task was to present the new agreement to the Maltese Parliament. The agreement is expected to bring relief to some members of NATO, including the United States, who saw the loss of the island as a threat to NATO's southern flank.