Britain sends new warship to Falklands
Britain said Tuesday it was sending a new state-of-the-art warship to the Falklands, but insisted the deployment was purely routine despite rising tensions over the islands' sovereignty.
Defence ministry officials said the decision to send HMS Dauntless to the South Atlantic Ocean was long planned.
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The Type 45 destroyer is due to head out on her maiden voyage in the coming months to replace the smaller Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose.
The Falklands dispute is especially sensitive as the 30th anniversary approaches of the war between Britain and Argentina over the barren islands.
Buenos Aires denounced what it called a "militarisation" of the dispute.
"The Argentine Republic rejects the British effort to militarise a conflict which the United Nations has said on multiple occasions should be resolved through bilateral negotiations," a foreign ministry statement said.
Prime Minister David Cameron angered Argentina last week by accusing it of "colonialism" over the British overseas territory which Buenos Aires claims belongs to Argentina.
That led Argentine President Cristina Kirchner to accuse Cameron of portraying her country as "violent" in the dispute.
Foreign Secretary William Hague played down the deployment of HMS Dauntless, telling Sky News television: "There's nothing unusual about this deployment, it doesn't reflect any change in the situation of any kind.
"These things, they are routine deployments. We do keep a garrison on the Falkland Islands, and of course aircraft there as well. Royal Naval ships frequently visit the area."
Hague added: "We will always be in a position to defend the Falkland Islands if necessary, not that we are aware of any military threat to the Falkland Islands at the moment."
Argentina's then-ruling junta launched an invasion on April 2, 1982. Britain restored its control following a 74-day war which cost the lives of 649 Argentine and 255 British troops.
Tensions over the 30th anniversary have been raised by the announcement that Prince William, Queen Elizabeth II's grandson and the second in line to throne, will soon spend six weeks on a routine deployment to the Falklands as an air force search and rescue helicopter pilot.
Argentina expressed dismay over the deployment of William "in a conqueror's uniform".
In London, Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne told parliament that Argentina had been trying to build an "economic blockade designed to try and hurt the Falkland Islanders".
In December, South American trading bloc Mercosur agreed to close its ports to ships flying the Falklands flag.
However, Browne added, it was important not to exaggerate its impact.
"If the intention of the Argentinian government is to weaken the resolve of the Falkland Islanders through economic means then that is not an objective that they have achieved."
Â© 2012 AFP
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Source : AFP