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Argentina sues UK oil firms for exploration near Malvinas

10 April 2015 7:57


Tensions have once again heated up between Britain and Argentina over the disputed Malvinas islands in South Atlantic Ocean, which are also known as the Falklands to the British.

On Thursday, Buenos Aires took legal action against companies exploring for oil off the islands a day after the longstanding row prompted the two countries to summon each other’s ambassadors for a dressing-down.

The Argentine government said three British and two US companies had faced legal action for “carrying out exploration activities for fossil fuels on the Argentine continental shelf without obtaining the corresponding authorization.”

It said the companies had sent a semi-submersible rig to explore for oil in a basin 200 kilometers (120 miles) off the islands’ north coast, in what it described as areas “subjected to the illegitimate British occupation.”

The announcement came a day after Britain summoned Argentine Ambassador Alicia Castro to say it “object(s) strongly” to recent comments by her and President Cristina Kirchner on the Falklands, which Argentina calls the Malvinas.

Castro had called a GBP-180-million (USD-265-million), a 10-year plan by Britain to beef up its defenses on the islands “an excuse used by the military to lobby to keep spending money.” Kirchner had also said last week, “We will once again see the islands form part of our territory.”

Argentina responded by summoning British Ambassador John Freeman over the recent revelation of documents leaked by fugitive US intelligence analyst and whistleblower Edward Snowden, suggesting that Britain’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group had carried out a “long-term, far-reaching” espionage program in the Latin American country.

“Actions of this sort violate the right to privacy,” Argentina’s Deputy Foreign Minister Eduardo Zuain told the UK ambassador on Thursday.

Located about 300 miles (almost 500 kilometers) off Argentina’s coast and home to about 3,000 inhabitants, the disputed islands have been declared part of the British Overseas Territories since Britain established its colonial rule on the territories in 1833.

The two sides fought a 74-day war in 1982 over the islands, which ended with the British side claiming victory over the Argentineans.

The United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization considers the islands as a colony, which is waiting to be decolonized.

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