Argentina seeks to tamp down new tensions over Falklands

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Argentina pledged Tuesday to use diplomatic channels to protest British military exercises near the disputed Falkland Islands that have provoked new tensions between London and Buenos Aires.

"We are very concerned by this acceleration or provocation by the United Kingdom, but we are not going to fall into any provocation and we will not stray from the law, diplomacy and peace," Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman told reporters.

He said Argentina had not been informed ahead of time about the British military exercises around the disputed territory, which Buenos Aires calls the Malvinas Islands.

Britain's Foreign Office has said the exercises are "routine" and have "been carried out every six months for the last 28 years."

But Argentina on Saturday decried the maneuvers and military build-up as an "unacceptable provocation" and on Monday lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations in response.

The country's UN envoy Jorge Arguello told Argentine radio he had delivered a letter of protest to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a copy of which had been given to the British embassy in Buenos Aires.

Argentina is also seeking a condemnation of the British troop activity from the Union of South American Nations, a regional grouping.

President Cristina Kirchner has 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."

Buenos Aires and London have been at loggerheads over the region for decades.

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

© 2010 AFP

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