Chile, Uruguay deny making deal to host Falklands-bound ships

Britain says it stopped Buenos Aires' blockade strategy

Buenos Aires / Madrid - 11 Jan 2012 - 17:08 UTC

Britain says that it has convinced the governments of Uruguay, Chile and Brazil to allow its flagged ships and those of other countries to dock in their ports when traveling to and from the Falklands Islands. But two of those three nations on Wednesday denied that they have changed their policies.

British Foreign Minister William Hague said he received pledges from those three governments not to enforce last December's petition by Argentina to keep Falklands-bound ships from using South American ports.

"We have had productive and honest discussions with Uruguay, Chile and Brazil. All three countries have said that they have no intention of participating in an economic blockade of the Falkland Islands and that all Falklands-related commercial shipping will continue to enjoy access to their ports [...] if they are flying the Red Ensign or another national flag when docked," Hague said in a statement that was read on Tuesday in the British parliament.

But Uruguay said that it had not changed its mind on banning from its ports vessels going to and from the disputed South Atlantic islands, known in Spanish as Las Malvinas, as it had pledged to do last month at Buenos Aires' request during a Mercosur summit in Asunción.

"Uruguay considers the Malvinas an English possession in Latin America and, in consequence, does not recognize its flag. This anti-colonial view is not the sole position of Uruguay but a common position of all of Latin America," said President José Mujica in a statement, which was published Wednesday in Buenos Aires daily La Nación.

Mujica also called for London and Buenos Aires to hold talks for the eventual transfer of the offshore-petroleum-rich archipelago.

A similar statement was released Wednesday by the Chilean Foreign Ministry. At press time, Brazil had not issued any clarification.

At the end of last year, the British government reiterated publicly that it would "never" negotiate the sovereignty of the Falklands Islands.

Cameron's remarks angered Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner who sought support from her Mercosur partners to keep ships from reaching the islands. In recent years, the Falklands have seen increased commercial activity after several British oil companies reported discovering oil fields off the northwestern shores of islands.

April 2 will mark the 30th anniversary of Argentina's invasion of the islands in an effort to capture them. After a 74-day war with Britain, Argentina surrendered. The country's defeat eventually brought down the military dictatorship.

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