UK protests at Argentine trade boycott call
LONDON/BUENOS AIRES |
LONDON/BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Britain summoned Argentina's envoy on Wednesday to explain a minister's proposed boycott of British goods and a decision to stop two cruise ships from docking in the country, as tensions rose over the disputed Falkland Islands.
"Given our concerns over the recent incidents with the cruise ships in Ushuaia, and now these latest reports, we summoned the Argentine charge (d'affairs) this afternoon for an explanation," a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
She said Britain had called on the European Union to lodge a collective protest with Buenos Aires.
Argentine Industry Minister Debora Giorgi urged at least 20 business leaders on Tuesday to replace British imports with ones from countries that respect Argentina's sovereignty claims over the Falklands.
Two British-linked cruise ships that had visited the Falklands, known in Argentina as the Malvinas, were denied permission to dock in Argentina's Tierra del Fuego province on Monday.
The Foreign Office called in Argentina's charge d'affaires, Osvaldo Marsico, to explain the situation.
Tensions between London and Buenos Aires were rising before the 30th anniversary of a 10-week war they fought after Argentina invaded the South Atlantic archipelago, a British overseas territory over which it has a sovereignty claim.
London has refused to start talks demanded by Buenos Aires over the islands' sovereignty unless the 3,000 Falklands residents call for them, which they show no signs of doing.
Buenos Aires issued a statement on Wednesday saying it was "pleased to see that Britain has finally gone to a forum (the EU) to look for a solution to the Malvinas question."
Oil exploration off the islands by British companies has raised the stakes in the territorial spat.
"Britain's decision also provides an occasion for the members of the European Union to confirm violations of U.N. resolutions by Great Britain, given the exploitation of natural resources in an area whose sovereignty is in dispute," Argentina's foreign ministry said.
In an emotional speech on Monday commemorating the bicentennial of the Argentine flag, President Cristina Fernandez stressed "the defence of our natural resources" as key to the dispute over the South Atlantic archipelago.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said Giorgi's proposed boycott of British goods was "counter-productive and also a complete misreading of Britain's resolve on this issue."
"We are also a major investor in Argentina and we import goods from Argentina. It is not in Argentina's economic interest to put up barriers. The right approach here is one of cooperation not confrontation," he said.
(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft and Tim Castle in London; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Christopher Wilson)
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