Britain asks Uruguay to let its ships dock in local ports

23rd December 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Friday asked Uruguay to let British ships dock at Uruguayan ports, Britain's embassy in Montevideo said in a statement.

The request comes days after the South American trading bloc Mercosur -- which includes Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay -- agreed on Tuesday to close its ports to ships flying the flag of the British-controlled Falkland Islands.

Hague's request came in a phone call to Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro, the embassy said in a brief statement.

"Hague emphasized that ships sailing under the British flag should continue having access to the ports of Uruguay. The conversation was cordial and constructive, and we are hopeful of a satisfactory solution," it read.

Almagro, in comments to the online edition of the daily El Observador, said that he told Hague in a "frank" dialog that Uruguay's decision to ban ships from the Falklands was consistent with Uruguay's support for Argentina's claim over the archipelago.

"To recognize the flag of the Falklands would be to recognize the jurisdiction and British sovereignty," he said.

Uruguay, however, "has no problems with ships of other flags that sail between Montevideo and the Malvinas," he said, using the name in the Spanish-speaking world for the islands.

The Falklands, located in the south Atlantic some 400 nautical miles from Argentina, has been held by Britain since 1833. Britain has held South Georgia since 1775 and the South Sandwich islands since 1908, but Argentina considers them occupied parts of its territory.

The Falklands flag is flown by 25 boats, mostly fishing vessels, according to the BBC.

© 2011 AFP

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