Argentina in UN protest over British Falklands moves

11th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Argentina has lodged a protest at the United Nations against a British military build-up and exercises in the disputed Falkland Islands, the country's UN envoy Jorge Arguello announced Monday.

"We are going to request that the secretary general distribute among UN members a copy of the protest, to reflect this new violation of UN resolutions," Arguello told state news agency Telam.

Argentina's government on Saturday had decried as an "unacceptable provocation" British plans for military exercises on and around the islands, including what Buenos Aires described as missiles fired from the Falklands.

Argentina was taking the complaint to UN chief Ban Ki-moon to "alert him to the (British) missile exercises that are being planned," the diplomat told Argentina radio.

"The missiles will be fired from Argentine territory and will fall into the water or in Argentina," Arguello added.

"Until the UN ascertains the merits on the sovereignty of the islands, nobody can say that Argentine territory is something different from the Falkland Islands."

Britain has held the archipelago since 1833. Argentina's then-ruling military junta invaded in 1982, prompting a short but bloody war that left 649 Argentine troops and 255 British troops dead.

On Saturday, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner denounced the exercises as a "militarization of the South Atlantic" and warned that the maneuvers could spark an arms race in the region.

She posted several messages on the social networking site Twitter, including one describing the moves as "typical 19th century colonialism."

Britain shrugged off the Argentine complaints.

"Routine testing has been carried out every six months for the last 28 years, most recently in April this year," a Foreign Office spokeswoman told AFP.

"The testing takes place entirely within Falklands territorial waters," she added.

"A standard notice had been sent, as always, to the Maritime Regional Coordination Centre in Ushuaia to alert shipping in the area."

Around 3,000 people live on the barren South Atlantic Ocean islands, which lie 450 kilometers (280 miles) off the Argentine coast.

Buenos Aires has ratcheted up its claims of sovereignty over the Falklands, called the Malvinas in Spanish, after a British firm began drilling for oil offshore in February.

Late last month, a member of the British territory's legislative assembly said Argentina's "belligerent" behavior over the Falklands has backfired by turning the islands' young generation against the country.

Legislator Roger Edwards also said Argentina's requests for talks with Britain were not really about improving the situation.

"When they say talks, they mean sovereignty," Edwards told AFP on a visit to Britain.

"They don't mean better relations, they mean takeover. And I'm afraid they will never get that," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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