February 7, 2012 11:59 pm

Argentina protests at Falklands warship

Argentina urged David Cameron on Tuesday to “give peace a chance” instead of militarising the Falkland Islands, where Britain has dispatched one of its most advanced warships.

In a speech before a map of the islands superimposed on Argentina’s blue-and-white flag, Cristina Fernández, the president, said Buenos Aires would lodge a formal protest with the UN Security Council and Assembly after the dispatch of HMS Dauntless.

“They are militarising the South Atlantic once again. We cannot interpret any other way the dispatch of . . . a destroyer,” she said.

Ms Fernández added that she would like to have seen Prince William, Britain’s heir to the throne who arrived in the Falklands last week for military training, “in civilian, not military clothes”. The dispute, she said, had become “a regional and global cause”.

“The militarisation of the South Atlantic . . . implies a serious risk for international security at a time when we see, in other countries, situations getting out of hand and uncontainable,” Ms Fernández told a cross-party audience including military leaders and Falklands veterans.

“I ask the British prime minister to give peace a chance, and not war,” she said. Argentina was, meanwhile, committed to diplomacy. “We are a people who have suffered too much in our country. We are not attracted by playing with weapons and wars,” she said.

Both sides have been cranking up the rhetoric ahead of the 30th anniversary on April 2 of the invasion by Argentina’s military junta that triggered a three-month war with Britain. Argentina wants Britain to sit down to UN-mandated sovereignty talks but Mr Cameron says the islanders have the right to self-determination and there is nothing to discuss.

Ms Fernández also decreed the declassification of a military report on the war, which she repudiated. But in a swipe at Britain, which Argentina casts as an anachronistic 21st-century colonial pirate, she added that there could be “no excuses for usurpers” and said “no place can be a war trophy”.

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