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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Canada and Danes in internet spat
A row between Canada and Denmark over who has sovereignty over a tiny Arctic island has moved to the internet.

A Canadian man and an apparently Danish rival have each bought an advert on Google laying claim to Hans Island.

Toronto resident Rick Broadhead said he paid for his own ad after spotting another saying "Does Hans sound Canadian? Danish name, Danish island".

Denmark sent a letter of protest after Canada's defence minister paid a visit to the rocky outcrop last week.

Maple Leaf flag

The status of the island - an uninhabited speck barely 100 metres wide between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland - has been disputed for more than 30 years.

Mr Broadhead said he had felt obliged to act after a search for Hans Island on Google brought up the apparently Danish advert, which also had a link to Denmark's foreign ministry website.

His rival ad shows a large Canadian Maple Leaf flag and the message "Hans Island is Canadian".

"To my knowledge this is the first time that a squabble has ever broken out between two nations on Google," he told Reuters news agency.

Danish pastries

Denmark's ambassador to Ottawa, Poul Erik Dam Kristensen, said on Thursday that the two countries should re-open talks on the issue.

He insisted that whoever had placed the advert claiming Hans Island for Denmark was not speaking for the government.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Canadian foreign affairs ministry told Reuters its cafeteria would continue to sell Danish pastries as a "goodwill gesture".

Observers say the dispute is marked by a sense of humour at present, but could turn nasty if oil or mineral resources were discovered beneath the island.

The dispute started in 1973 when Denmark and Canada drew a border down the Nares Strait, between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland, a semi-autonomous Danish territory.

The sovereignty of Hans Island was left to be determined later - and remains unresolved.

Regions and territories: Greenland
01 Sep 04 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Greenland
10 Aug 04 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Denmark
06 Aug 04 |  Country profiles

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