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Warning over ban on Falklands boats

The Government has warned Argentina not to doubt its "determination" to protect the Falklands after a South American trading bloc announced a ban on boats with an islands flag from docking at its ports.

The Foreign Office said it was "very concerned" by the "latest Argentine attempt to isolate" the islands and is now in "urgent" discussions with countries in the region.

Mercosur, a trading bloc that includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, reached the decision at a summit in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.

The dispute involves a vast area of potentially mineral-rich South Atlantic waters and has created a fresh diplomatic headache for Britain, which controls the islands.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are very concerned by this latest Argentine attempt to isolate the Falkland Islands people and damage their livelihoods, for which there is no justification.

"It is not immediately clear what practical impact, if any, this statement will have, which mirrors the language already used by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in 2010. We are discussing this urgently with countries in the region.

"But no one should doubt our determination to protect the Falkland Islanders' right to determine their own political future."

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