(AFP) – Jan 18, 2012
BRASILIA — Rising tension over a dispute between Britain and Argentina on the Falkland Islands overshadowed the first official visit by British Foreign Secretary William Hague to Brazil Wednesday.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said all Latin American nations "back Argentine sovereignty over the Malvinas and back the UN resolutions calling on the Argentine and British governments to hold talks on the issue."
Britain and Argentina fought a brief war over the islands, known in Spanish as the Malvinas and held by Britain since 1883, over 30 years ago.
But frictions between Buenos Aires and London have intensified since 2010, when London authorized oil prospecting around the islands -- population around 3,000 -- which are located some 400 nautical miles from Argentina.
Hague, conceding that Britain and Latin America disagree on the Falklands dispute, told a press conference: "We believe in the self-determination of the people of the Falkland Islands... That will continue."
And he referred to comments by British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier Wednesday, who accused Buenos Aires of "colonialism."
"The key point is we support the Falkland Islanders' right to self-determination, and what the Argentinians have been saying recently, I would argue is actually far more like colonialism because these people want to remain British and the Argentinians want them to do something else," Cameron told lawmakers.
Argentina's interior minister, Florencio Randazzo, has slammed Cameron's comments as "totally offensive."
During his two-day visit to Brazil, Hague is also to hold talks with Defense Minister Celso Amorim, Rio de Janeiro state Governor Sergio Cabral and Admiral Moura Neto, chief of the Brazilian Navy, British officials said.
He will also visit Rio on Thursday where he will give a speech on the future of British-Brazil ties.
A Foreign Office statement noted that London and Brasilia, "as active players on international issues such as organized crime and counter-terrorism... frequently work together on challenges that face them.
"It is in this spirit and for this reason that the UK supports Brazil's aspiration for a permanent seat on a reformed (UN) Security Council, as a strong global partner in maintaining international peace and security," it added.
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