Sunday, March 18, 2012

UNASUR criticizes UK oil exploration plans in Malvinas Islands

The inauguration ceremony of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Drug Council Meeting, La Paz, Bolivia, November 17, 2011

Source: Press TV

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) has denounced British oil exploration plans in the hotly disputed Malvinas Islands, amid mounting tensions between Britain and Argentina over the archipelago.

The UNASUR, created in 2008, is made up of 12 countries in the region, namely Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Venezuela, Ecuador and Uruguay.

"The military presence of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland in the Islas Malvinas ... goes against the region's policy to seek a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute, and [the region] reiterates its rejection of that presence," the foreign ministers of the UNASUR said in a joint statement on Saturday.

"It also rejects unilateral British activities in the disputed zone, which include, among other things, the exploration and exploitation of renewable and non-renewable Argentine natural resources as well as military exercises," the statement added.

Argentina says drilling activities and exploration by Britain are illegal and has vowed to take legal action against any companies operating in oil exploration off the disputed islands in South America.

The reaction of the South American nations came after the British oil and gas exploration company, Rockhopper, announced it was seeking a partner to invest in the 2-billion-dollar exploration project.

Tensions have been mounting in recent months over the Malvinas Islands, with the UN calling on Britain to discuss decolonization. The UK has so far refused to do so.

Britain has deployed its most sophisticated warship, HMS Dauntless, and a nuclear submarine to the South Atlantic to prevent Argentina’s possible counter-move.

The Malvinas Islands, located about 300 miles off Argentina's coast and home to about 3,000 inhabitants, have been declared as part of the British Overseas Territories since Britain established its colonial rule on the islands in 1833.

Britain and Argentina also fought a 74-day war in 1982 over the islands, which ended with the British side claiming victory over the Argentineans.

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