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Argentina asks UN to bring UK into talks on Falklands

Argentinian Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana with UN Sec Gen Ban Ki-moon 24 February 2010
Jorge Taiana asked Ban Ki-moon to intervene in dispute with UK

Argentina has formally asked United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to bring the UK into talks over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana said he had asked Mr Ban to help stop "further unilateral acts" by the UK.

Mr Taiana was referring to the UK's decision to begin oil drilling under a seabed off the islands.

The UK government says the islands have a "legitimate right" to develop an oil industry within their waters.

In a statement, the UK Permanent Representative to the UN, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, said that the UK had "no doubt" over its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.

He said this position was "underpinned by the principle of self-determination as set out in the UN charter".

After the meeting with Mr Ban, Mr Taiana reiterated his government's belief that the islands, which it calls Las Malvinas, are part of Argentina's territory.

He said he had asked the UN chief to press Britain to at least talk to his country about the dispute.

The BBC's Matthew Price at the UN says that the dispute has as much to do with oil as it does with Argentine politics.

With elections due next year, the government cannot be seen to be dropping the country's claim, especially if oil is found in large quantities, our correspondent says.

Diplomatic offensive

Argentina and the UK went to war over the islands in 1982 after Buenos Aires invaded.

The current Argentine government has ruled out any military action over the islands but is stepping up a diplomatic offensive to try to pressure London into negotiations.

What is the geographic, the political or economic explanation for England [sic] to be in Las Malvinas?
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Brazilian president

Buenos Aires says the UK has broken a UN resolution forbidding unilateral development in disputed waters.

A summit of Latin American and Caribbean nations ended in Mexico on Tuesday with a statement reaffirming "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".

Explanation

At the summit, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva urged the UN to debate Argentina's claim to sovereignty.

"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?"

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.

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

Falkland Islands map



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