UN chief seeks to ease Falkland tensions

February 11th, 2012 - 5:15 am ICT by IANS  

United Nations, Feb 11 (IANS) UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon Friday called upon Argentina and Britain to prevent “an escalation” of tensions over the Falkland Islands.

The secretary-general made the appeal when he was meeting Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman at the UN Headquarters in New York, Xinhua reported.

“The secretary-general expressed concern about the increasingly strong exchanges between the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom on this issue,” a statement issued by Ban’s spokesman said.

“He expressed the hope that the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom will avoid an escalation of this dispute and resolve differences peacefully and through dialogue,” the statement added.

The South Atlantic islands off the eastern coast of South America, called the Falkland Islands by Britain and the Malvinas Islands by Argentina, have long been disputed by the two countries. Controversy erupted again when Britain announced it would begin exploring for oil in the waters around the islands.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez Tuesday accused Britain of militarizing the South Atlantic, vowing to seek UN help to remove British troops from the region.

The president said it is disturbing that Britain maintains a military presence in the waters around the Malvinas Islands.

She said her government would present once again its arguments to the UN De-colonizing Committee in June, and expressed the belief that with these arguments the sovereignty of the Malvinas would be given to Argentina.

International courts have on numerous occasions ruled against Argentina’s sovereignty claim.

Tensions between the two countries over the islands have recently increased ahead of the 30th anniversary of the 1982 war that saw Argentina defeated by Britain. The 74-day war ended in June that year.

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