Peru frigate snub fuels Falklands row

 

A visit by a Royal Navy frigate to Peru has been cancelled by the
hosts in a display of solidarity with Argentina over the Falklands.

HMS Montrose was due to visit the country later this week but the Peruvian government has withdrawn its welcome for the ship.

Foreign minister Rafael Roncagliolo told Peru-based news agency Andina: "This decision has been taken in the spirit of Latin American solidarity commitments undertaken in the framework of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) with regard to the legitimate rights of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding waters."

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said officials could have raised the issue with Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne when he visited the country last week.

A spokesman said: "HMS Montrose was scheduled to make a short visit to Peru as part of a routine deployment to the region.

"This was agreed as an act of friendship and cooperation between Peru and the UK.

"Ship visits are a sovereign decision for states, but we regret that Peru has revoked its previous agreement to this visit.

"This is despite the Peruvian government having had the opportunity on Friday to raise any concerns it had about this agreed co-operation."

As Britain and Argentina prepare to mark the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War, Buenos Aires again has its sights on claiming the territory it calls Las Malvinas for itself.

Argentina has accused the UK of "militarising" the dispute by reportedly sending a submarine carrying nuclear weapons to the South Atlantic, something that Britain has not confirmed.

They also objected to the Duke of Cambridge's posting to the Falklands as an RAF rescue helicopter pilot and the deployment to the region of one of the Royal Navy's most modern destroyers, HMS Dauntless.

Last week Argentina threatened to take legal action against British companies involved in oil exploration, a move dismissed by the FCO as "wholly counter-productive".

In turn Britain insists its movements of troops and warships are purely routine, and claims Argentina is trying to impose an "economic blockade" on the Falklands by restricting shipping to and from the islands.

Last month Argentinian president Cristina Kirchner de Fernandez said she was making a formal complaint about the UK's conduct to the United Nations, noting that she would have preferred to see Prince William "in civilian clothes and not in military uniform".

Prime Minister David Cameron responded by saying he believed the UN would back the islands' status as a self-governing British overseas territory and warning that Britain would "defend the Falkland Islands properly".

The FCO spokesman added: "The UK Government remains fully committed to the Falkland islanders' right to self determination. This position will not change."

PA

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