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Summit backs Argentine claim to Falkland Islands

Group photograph from Cancun 22 February 2010
Latin American and Caribbean leaders give unanimous support to Argentina

Latin American and Caribbean leaders at a summit in Mexico have unanimously backed Argentina in its new row with the UK over the Falkland Islands.

Leaders of all 32 countries supported Argentine claims to the islands and condemned oil drilling operations that are already under way.

The row erupted after a UK firm began drilling for oil off the Falkland Islands and Argentina objected.

Buenos Aires has ruled out military action and is pursuing talks at the UN.

What is the geographic, the political or economic explanation for England to be in Las Malvinas? Could it be because England is a permanent member of the UN's Security Council where they can do everything and the others nothing?
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

In a statement, the leaders reaffirmed "backing for Argentina's legitimate rights in its sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom relating to the 'Malvinas Question'".

The statement also urged the two governments to "renew negotiations in order to find in the shortest time possible a just, peaceful and definitive solution to the dispute".

Meanwhile Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called on the UN to debate Argentina's sovereignty claim.

"What is the geographic, the political or economic explanation for England [sic] to be in Las Malvinas?" he asked.

"Could it be because England is a permanent member of the UN's Security Council [where] they can do everything and the others nothing?"

Drilling operation

Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana is due to meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday.

ANALYSIS
Andy Gallacher, BBC News, Cancun


For the Argentine government the Cancun summit has been a huge success.

They have received unanimous backing condemning Britain's oil drilling activities in the Falkland Islands and backing its claims of sovereignty over the long disputed archipelago.

Leaders from 32 nations spanning Latin America and the Caribbean backed what is becoming an increasingly bitter dispute between the British and Argentine governments.

Backing on this scale by so many nations is now bound to give the Argentines renewed fervour in their claims and calls for the British government to negotiate sovereignty.

Argentina and Britain went to war over the South Atlantic islands, which Argentina calls the Malvinas, in 1982, after Buenos Aires invaded them.

UK forces wrested back control of the territory, held by Britain since 1833, during a seven-week war that killed 649 Argentine and 255 British service personnel.

The British-contracted rig Ocean Guardian began drilling 100km (62 miles) north of the Falklands on Monday.

The drilling operation in the disputed waters off the Falkland Islands could yield millions of barrels of oil and the British government says it will take all necessary measures to protect the archipelago.

But Buenos Aires has ruled out military action and is trying to pressure Britain into negotiations on sovereignty.

The Argentine foreign minister is due to meet with the UN Secretary General in New York as they continue their diplomatic offensive.

Also at the two-day summit of the Rio Group and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) in Mexico, leaders agreed to set up a new regional body without the US and Canada.

The new bloc would be an alternative to the Organisation of American States (OAS), the main forum for regional affairs in the past 50 years.

Falkland Islands map



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