UK plays down Falklands moves amid N- sub reports
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Last Updated: Sunday, February 05, 2012, 22:03
London: Britain sought on Sunday to play down military moves around the Falkland Islands, as the foreign minister refused to comment on reports it has moved a nuclear submarine to the tense South Atlantic.

Britain's Daily Mail newspaper on yesterday claimed Prime Minister David Cameron has personally approved plans to send one of the Royal Navy's most advanced Trafalgar-class nuclear submarines to the disputed archipelago.

Speaking on Sky News on today, Foreign Secretary William Hague declined to confirm or deny the deployment. "We don't normally make any comment on the deployment of our submarines," he said. "But our naval vessels regularly visit the South Atlantic."

Argentina's defence minister Arturo Puricelli on yesterday described the reported deployment as an "unnecessary display of firepower".

Tension has soared between the two countries in recent weeks as the thirtieth anniversary of a brief but violent war over the windswept islands approaches.

Prince William, the second in line to the British throne, this week began a six-week mission with the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the Falklands, a move that has infuriated Argentina.

The 29-year-old has been sent to the archipelago as part of his duties as an RAF Sea King helicopter pilot, a deployment Britain says is routine but Argentina has slammed as a "provocation".

Britain has further ratcheted tensions by announcing that it is to send HMS Dauntless, a state-of-the-art warship, to the South Atlantic.

Hague today dismissed the deployments as "entirely routine military movements".

"Prince William is also on a routine deployment that is part of his job," he added. "We will resist the diplomatic efforts of Argentina to raise the temperature on this."

The Falklands, known as Las Malvinas in Spanish, have been held by Britain since 1833 but are also claimed by Argentina.

On April 2, 1982, the then-ruling junta in Argentina invaded the Falklands, sparking a 74-day war with Britain which cost the lives of 649 Argentine and 255 British troops.

London retained control and has vowed to defend the islands as long as the inhabitants want to be part of Britain.


First Published: Sunday, February 05, 2012, 22:03

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