Argentina criticizes Britain for military boost in Falklands

AP News
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Posted: Mar 25, 2015 6:24 PM

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina's foreign minister on Wednesday criticized Britain for building up its military capacity in the disputed Falkland Islands, a small increase that caused a big stir in the South American country.

Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said Britain's decision underscored an unwillingness to negotiate in the face of U.N. resolutions urging the two nations to do so.

"It's not only a provocation for Argentina but is also an insult to the United Nations," Timerman told local station Radio Del Plata.

Timerman said the decision was a way for Britain to justify increasing its military budget, a claim made by other Argentine officials.

"Argentina has no plans for conflict with any country while Great Britain is continually at war in some part of the world," Timerman said.

On Tuesday, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said the military would add two transport helicopters and an enhanced communications system to its defense systems on the islands.

The islands about 300 miles (500 kilometers) east of Argentina are claimed by both Britain and Argentina. They fought over the remote archipelago in 1982 after Argentine troops invaded.

While the dispute always strikes a nerve in Argentina, Britain has repeatedly said the question of sovereignty has been decided. In a 2013 referendum, the vast majority of Falkland residents voted to remain a British territory. The islands have a population of about 2,563 people, according to a 2012 census.

Several U.N. resolutions have urged the two nations to negotiate. Argentina claims Britain stole the territory by placing a naval garrison there in 1833.

The latest dustup began earlier in the week amid news reports in Britain that Argentina would lease several long-range military aircraft from Russia. The Argentine government on Wednesday denied such a deal was planned.

Defense Minister Agustin Rossi said Argentina was looking to upgrade its aging fighter jets and is considering proposals from China, Spain and Israel. Russian planes "were never considered," Rossi told local news site Infobae.com.