Sat, Feb 04, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Britain is distracting its public with the Falklands: Argentina

AFP, BUENOS AIRES

Argentina said on Thursday that Britain was trying to distract its public from high unemployment and other domestic problems by saber-rattling over the disputed Falkland Islands.

Argentine Vice President Amado Boudou’s reaction came amid rising tensions with the approach of the 30th anniversary of the brief, but bloody, war the two countries fought for the South Atlantic archipelago.

His remarks followed the arrival of Britain’s Prince William in the Falklands on Thursday for a six-week Royal Air Force deployment and London’s announcement earlier this week that it would soon deploy a warship to the islands.

The moves “have to do with British domestic politics, with the high unemployment. This is an attempt to cover for a government that has a low level of accomplishment,” Boudou said.

Buenos Aires on Tuesday accused Britain of trying to militarize the diplomatic conflict over the Malvinas Islands, as the islands are known in the Spanish speaking world, and expressed regret over Prince William’s deployment.

Argentina has received the backing of Latin American countries for its claim of sovereignty over the remote islands, which were occupied by Britain in 1833.

The dispute erupted into warfare in April 1982 when Argentine troops seized the islands, only to be routed in a 74-day war that claimed the lives of 649 Argentines and 255 Britons.

Diplomatic friction between Argentina and Britain has intensified since 2010, when London authorized oil exploration in the waters near the islands.

The Venezuelan government announced on Thursday that it repudiated the “acts of provocation” of the British government toward Argentina.

Venezuela also said Argentina “is not alone in its legitimate claim to the right of sovereignty” over the islands.

“The decision to send a warship to the Falklands, along with the aggressive statements of [British] Prime Minister David Cameron and of [British Foreign Secretary] William Hague ... show an unacceptable attitude” that “causes the rejection of the entire Latin American continent and the Caribbean,” a Venezuelan statement said.

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