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Argentina takes Falklands oil drilling dispute to UN

Argentina continued yesterday to fan its re-invigorated dispute with Britain over the Falklands Islands, as its foreign minister Jorge Taiana flew into New York to formally raise the issue with the head of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon

Mr Taiana was armed with a statement of support from 23 Latin American and Caribbean nations, issued at a just-concluded regional summit in Mexico.

Sharply-worded criticism of Britain was also voiced at the end of the talks by the leader of Brazil, President Lula da Silva.

There were unconfirmed reports that Argentina would introduce a resolution condemning Britain to the UN General Assembly. But its options for substantive action in New York remained very limited. Any binding resolution would have to be passed by the UN Security Council where Britain has a veto.

Tensions between London and Buenos Aires have flared since the arrival of a Scottish oil platform off the Falklands to drill for oil. Argentina responded by insisting that any ships passing through its waters to the islands be issued with a permit. And President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, embattled at home, has claimed Britain is violating UN resolutions by drilling in disputed waters.

At the end of the Mexico summit regional leaders issued a statement giving “support for the legitimate rights of the Republic of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. It said the two nations should resume talks “in order to find a just, peaceful and definitive solution” to the dispute.

British diplomats in New York were awaiting the statements of Mr Taiana late last night before engaging directly in further dialogue.

There seemed to be a degree of bafflement, however, about which resolutions exactly Argentina believed Britain had violated. Only two resolutions on the Falklands have ever been adopted in the Security Council, neither of which addressed marine sovereignty matters.

In London the Foreign Office tried again to damp down the row. “We have no interest in escalating the kind of rhetoric that some people have been engaged in,” Chris Bryant, the minister with responsibility for Latin America, told Sky News. “We're just very certain that the Falklands are British, the Falkland islanders want to be part of the UK.” The islands' Legislative Assembly in Port Stanley issued a statement accusing the Kirchner government of “using the sovereignty claim to cover for their internal problems”. It went on: “There is a strong feeling within the islands that Argentina is using us, like it did in the past.”

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