Argentina in UN protest over Falklands moves

Argentina is angry over British military build-up and exercises in Falklands.

Buenos Aires: Argentina lodged a formal protest, including a complaint to the United Nations, against a British military build-up and exercises in the disputed Falkland Islands.

The country`s UN envoy Jorge Arguello told Argentine radio said he delivered a letter of protest to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a copy of which had been given to the British embassy in Buenos Aires.

"We made the presentation to the UN secretary general," he said, as Buenos Aires stepped up its rhetoric over the exercises.

Argentina`s government on Saturday decried as an "unacceptable provocation" British plans for military exercises on and around the islands, including what Buenos Aires described as missiles fired from the Falklands.

Argentina was taking the complaint to the UN chief "alert him to the (British) missile exercises that are being planned," the diplomat told Argentina radio.

"The missiles will be fired from Argentine territory and will fall into the water or in Argentina," Arguello added.

"Until the UN ascertains the merits on the sovereignty of the islands, nobody can say that Argentine territory is something different from the Falkland Islands."

Britain has held the archipelago since 1833. In 1982, Argentina`s military junta invaded, prompting a short but bloody war that left 649 Argentine troops and 255 British troops dead.

President Cristina Kirchner has denounced the exercises as a "militarisation of the South Atlantic" and warned that the manoeuvres could spark an arms race in the region.

She posted several messages on the social networking site Twitter, including one describing the moves as "typical 19th century colonialism”.

Britain shrugged off the complaints.

"Routine testing has been carried out every six months for the last 28 years, most recently in April this year," a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

"The testing takes place entirely within Falklands territorial waters," she added.

"A standard notice had been sent, as always, to the Maritime Regional Coordination Centre in Ushuaia to alert shipping in the area."

Around 3,000 people live on the barren South Atlantic Ocean islands, which lie 450 kilometres (280 miles) off the Argentine coast.

Buenos Aires has ratcheted up its claims of sovereignty over the Falklands, called the Malvinas in Spanish, after a British firm began drilling for oil offshore in February.

Late last month, a member of the British territory`s Legislative Assembly said Argentina`s "belligerent" behaviour over the Falklands has backfired by turning the islands` young generation against the country.

Legislator Roger Edwards also said Argentina`s requests for talks with Britain were not really about improving the situation.

"When they say talks, they mean sovereignty," Edwards said on a visit to Britain.

"They don`t mean better relations, they mean takeover. And I`m afraid they will never get that," he said.

Bureau Report