London: The US government has refused to endorse British claims to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, as the diplomatic row over oil drilling in the South Atlantic intensified in London, Argentina and at the United Nations (UN).
According to reports, the Obama administration is determined to keep out of the issue, despite its close alliance with the UK.
It has also declined to back Britain’s claim that oil exploration near the islands is sanctioned by international law, saying that the dispute is strictly a bilateral issue.
“We are aware not only of the current situation, but also of the history, but our position remains one of neutrality,” The Times quote a State Department spokesman, as saying.
“The US recognises de facto UK administration of the islands but takes no position on the sovereignty claims of either party,” he added.
Meanwhile, Argentina has appealed to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, to intervene in the dispute.
“The Secretary-General knows about the issue. He is not happy to learn that the situation is worsening,” said Jorge Taiana, the Argentine Foreign Minister.
“We have asked the Secretary-General, within the framework of his good offices, to stress to Britain the need to abstain from further unilateral acts,” he added.
Britain’s Ambassador to the UN, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, however said that Moon would not be able to mediate due Britain’s adamantly opposition to the move.
“As British ministers have made clear, the UK has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands . . . We are also clear that the Falkland Islands Government is entitled to develop a hydrocarbons industry within its waters, and we support this legitimate business in Falklands’ territory,” Sir Grant said.