UN chief seeks to cool Falklands tensions

Ban Ki-moon says world body is willing to help mediate dispute involving Britain and Argentina over islands.


    The secretary-general of the United Nations has called on Argentina and Britain to avoid an escalation of their Falkland Islands dispute, after meeting the South American nation's foreign minister, Hector Timerman.

    Ban Ki-moon's office said on Friday the UN would be happy to help mediate the dispute if asked.

    But the secretary-general "expressed concern about the increasingly strong exchanges" between the two governments, according to a summary of the meeting by the UN chief's office.

    Argentina and Britain fought a war over the islands in 1982, and tensions over the status of the South Atlantic territory have risen ahead of the 30th anniversary of that conflict in April.

    Ban's meeting with Timerman in New York came days after Argentina said it would present a formal complaint to the United Nations over Britain's "militarisation" of the situation in the Falkland Islands, known as Las Malvinas in Argentina.

    The islands, claimed by Argentina, are a British dependency and have been under the UK's control since 1833.

    Cristina Kirchner, Argentina's president, has said Britain has created a serious security risk by sending one of its most modern warships to the region.

    The act has also led to criticism by Jose Miguel Insulza, the secretary-general of the Organisation of American States, who decried London's "bellicose tone" against Argentina.

    The British government says its deployment of HMS Dauntless to the Falklands was a routine operation to replace another ship.

    The UK has repeatedly ruled out negotiations unless the Falklands' inhabitants say they want change.

    Timerman also had meetings planned on Friday with Togo's Ambassador Kodjo Menan, who holds the rotating UN Security Council presidency, and Cuban Ambassador Pedro Nunez Mosquera, who heads the UN Decolonisation Committee.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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