UK oil drilling off Falklands may harm ties with L America

20:53, February 24, 2010      

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Oil drilling off Falkland (Malvinas) Islands by British oil companies will likely harm relations between Britain and Latin American countries, an expert has said.

The Falklands, controlled by Britain, is claimed by Argentina, which calls them the Malvinas Islands.

"There are huge political and diplomatic issues, with great tensions with Argentina and other Latin American countries. If commercially significant amounts of oil are discovered that is really going to ratchet up tensions, and there could be big issues around who gets the tax," Daniel Litvin told Xinhua on Tuesday.


People hold up slogans during a rally protesting Britain's oil drilling plan in the disputed oil-rich Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, in Buenos Aires, Feb. 23, 2010. Tensions between Argentina and Britain have been escalating over Britain's oil drilling plan in the disputed oil-rich Malvinas (Falkland) Islands. The two countries were locked in a new round of verbal skirmishes 28 years after their bitter war over the ownership of the archipelago. (Xinhua/Martin Zabala)


"Will there be an attempt by Britain to compromise and share a bit with Argentina? These are big questions which will be pushed by Argentina and some of the other Latin American countries," said Litvin, an expert in the geopolitics of energy and energy security at the London-based think thank Chatham House.

Lord Montgomery, a British lawmaker who has long-standing and extensive links with Latin American countries, told Xinhua on Tuesday that he expected that the Rio Group summit currently meeting in Mexico would condemn the oil drilling, and that it was likely to be raised at the United Nations.

"We have to try to build bridges, we have a very long-standing tradition of friendship with Argentina and a tremendously close relationship with other Latin American countries," he said.

However, he also said he believed British sovereignty over Falklands was indisputable and that the islanders wanted it that way.

"The Argentine claim has no foundation in law, the wishes of the islanders is respected by the British government on the basis of self-determination," said Lord Montgomery.

An opinion poll for the mass circulation British tabloid paper The Sun showed that 58 percent of Britons support the government in sending the Royal Navy to patrol the seas off the Falklands in the wake of the diplomatic spat.

However, the poll, carried out by YouGov, also revealed that only 45 percent of Britons supported using force if necessary to underline Britain's claim to the disputed sovereignty of the islands in the South Atlantic.

Argentina and Britain have been at odds over the sovereignty of the islands for decades, and their dispute led to a 74-day war in 1982, which ended in the defeat of Argentina.

Source: Xinhua
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