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Argentine rejects British PM's claim over territorial dispute

(Xinhua)

15:45, January 19, 2012

BUENOS AIRES, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Political leaders here Wednesday strongly rejected British Prime Minister David Cameron's claim Argentina was "colonizing" the Malvinas Islands, which Britain calls the Falkland Islands.

Earlier in the day, Cameron said the Argentine government had engaged in "colonialism" toward the islets, which are at the center of the decades-old feud between the two countries.

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said instead of calling its National Security Council to discuss the issue, Britain should call United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and accept UN resolutions calling for dialogue to resolve the issue peacefully.

Argentine Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo described Cameron's comment as "particularly offensive."

Britain should respect the UN resolution to "discuss the Malvinas' sovereignty", although for Argentina there won't be such discussions because "the Malvinas belongs to Argentina," Randazzo said.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said Wednesday Latin America and the Caribbean back Argentina over the dispute.

Meeting with visiting British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Patriota said Hague knew "Brazil and Unasur (Union of South American Nations) support Argentinean sovereignty over the Malvinas."

Brazil also supported UN resolutions calling for the two countries to discuss the issue, Patriota said.

Argentina was defeated by Britain in a 74-day war in 1982 over the sovereignty of the South Atlantic islets, which are close to Argentine coasts and far away from Britain. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the conflict.

Tensions over the islands escalated recently when the Mercosur South American trade bloc and Chile backed Argentina by banning Malvinas-flagged ships from docking at their ports.

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