Britain rebuffs Argentine call over Falklands

15th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain rebuffed a call Friday from Argentine President Cristina Kirchner to new Prime Minister David Cameron to halt all oil exploration in the waters around the Falkland Islands.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We have no doubt about our sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.

"The Falklands Islands Government is entitled to develop a hydrocarbons industry within its waters and it is longstanding UK government policy to support this."

Kirchner called on Cameron to stop the oil exploration around the islands in the South Atlantic "in favour of fruitful cooperation with my country".

The president made the plea in a letter Argentina said was sent to Cameron upon his appointment this week, wishing him success and reaffirming her government's willingness to resume negotiations on the Falklands' sovereignty.

The existence of the letter had not been made public by the new British government, a coalition of Cameron's Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats which resulted from last week's inconclusive general election.

Argentina and Britain went to war in 1982 over the Falklands, a remote archipelago lying some 450 kilometres (280 miles) off Argentina's coast.

Britain regained control of the islands -- known in the Spanish-speaking world as the Malvinas -- but they remain a bone of contention, and Argentina was outraged when oil exploration began there in late February.

Tensions rose further on May 6 when British firm Rockhopper announced a first discovery of crude oil in a well off the islands.

© 2010 AFP

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