Argentina in Falklands plea at UN


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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed hopes that Argentina and Britain can avoid an escalation of their Falkland Islands dispute.

His plea came as he met the South American country's foreign minister, Hector Timerman, at the UN.

Ban "expressed concern about the increasingly strong exchanges" between the two governments and said the UN would be happy to help mediate the dispute if asked, according to his office.

Argentina and Britain fought a war over the islands in 1982, and tensions between the two countries have risen in recent weeks over the status of the territory in the South Atlantic Ocean.

The islands, which are a British dependency, are also claimed by Argentina, which refers to them as Las Malvinas.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has said her country will formally complain to the UN Security Council that Britain has created a serious security risk by sending one of its most modern warships to the region.

The British government said it recently sent destroyer HMS Dauntless to replace another ship in a routine operation.

Last week the Duke of Cambridge began a six-week posting in the Falklands region in his role as an RAF search and rescue pilot.

Britain's Foreign Office has repeatedly ruled out negotiations unless the Falklands' inhabitants say they want change.

Timerman also had meetings planned with Togo's Ambassador Kodjo Menan, who holds the rotating UN Security Council presidency, and Cuban Ambassador Pedro Nunez Mosquera, who heads the UN Decolonisation Committee.

Timerman is addressing the press later. British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant has scheduled his own news conference afterward.

Argentina invaded the islands in 1982 but its forces were driven out in a war that cost hundreds of lives.