Argentina legal moves 'bullying'
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has accused Argentina of bullying after it announced it was starting legal action against companies drilling for oil and gas near the Falkland Islands.
Three British firms, Premier Oil, Rockhopper Exploration and Falkland Oil & Gas, are reported to be among the five firms targeted by the action.
Daniel Filmus, Buenos Aires' minister for the Malvinas, as it refers to the British Overseas Territory, threatened legal moves over the drilling earlier this month and is reported to have confirmed today that Argentinian judicial authorities will take on the case.
Mr Hammond told Sky News: "It is an outrageous piece of bullying and threatening against the Falkland Islanders' perfect right to develop their own economic resources and Argentina needs to stop this kind of behaviour and start acting like a responsible member of the International community."
Last week Argentine ambassador Alicia Castro was summoned to the Foreign Office after she and the country's president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, launched new criticism of the British Government's plan to boost defences on the South Atlantic islands.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced recently that Britain was to deploy two RAF Chinook transport helicopters to bolster the defence of the islands, helping its garrison to mount a swift and decisive response to any incidents, against a background of renewed fears of a fresh Argentinian invasion of the islands, 33 years after the Falklands War.
Before today's announcement, Ian Hansen, chairman of the Falklands Legislative Assembly, dismissed Argentina's actions, saying: "The Falkland Islands Government (FIG) fails to see how drilling is in any way a provocation.
"We have the right to develop our economy, including the hydrocarbons industry, and we are exercising that right. Exploration drilling has been happening in Falkland Islands waters for many years.
"It is worth remembering that it was the government of Argentina who walked away from working with the Falkland Islands on the development of a hydrocarbons industry some years ago.
"Argentine domestic law does not apply to the Falkland Islands and this latest action is clearly another attempt by Argentina to try to block economic growth in the Falkland Islands."