Falklands standoff fuelled on oil dispute

Falklands standoff fuelled on oil dispute

LONDON - Reuters
Falklands standoff fuelled on oil dispute

Argentine FM Timerman shows a statement requesting peacful negotiations with the UK over the Falklands. AFP photo

Argentina stepped up its row with Britain over the Falklands on Feb. 6 with its foreign minister thanking God for the decline of the British Empire and vowing to prosecute oil firms exploring off the remote South Atlantic islands.

In a defiant news conference, held in London, Hector Timerman called Britain the “greatest colonial empire from the 19th century ... that thank God has been defeated worldwide.”

Timerman has refused to meet British Foreign Secretary William Hague to discuss the islands because of Britain’s insistence that Falklands residents be present, part of what London says is their right to self-determination, but a condition Timerman referred to as an “ultimatum.”

“The United Nations is very clear. Self-determination applies to a native people, not to people that have been implanted,” he said at a news conference titled “Meeting of European Pro-Dialogue Groups on the Malvinas Question.” Hague said it was a shame Timerman was unwilling to attend a meeting with him and Falkland Island representatives.

Timerman also vowed to take legal action to stop energy firms from exploring for oil and gas around the islands, accusing them of stealing Argentine resources.

Argentine hostility has not deterred companies and the islands are set to start producing their first oil in 2017.