British minister: Argentina denting Falkland Islands economy, risks harming isolated community

LONDON – Britains Latin America minister on Thursday accused Argentina of using its power to dent the economy of the Falklands Islands, as he prepares to visit the tiny South Atlantic archipelago to mark the 30th anniversary of a brief and bloody war between the two countries over the territory.

Jeremy Browne, who will visit the Falklands next week, said attempts to develop tourism in the islands a self-governing British Overseas Territory also claimed by Argentina were being damaged by actions taken by Buenos Aires.

The islands are seeking to attract visitors to boost tourism, hoping to capitalize on the territorys wide variety of wildlife, including penguins, sea lions and the rare caracara bird.

In recent months, Argentine ports have turned away cruise ships carrying the British flag, while flights passing through the islands are restricted from Argentine airspace. In addition, Argentina has recently called on its Latin American neighbours to boycott British goods.

Tensions have risen ahead of the June 14 anniversary of the end of the short war between Argentina and Britain over the Falklands, which began on April 2, 1982, and saw more than 900 people die.

Argentines insist Britain has illegally occupied the islands they call the Islas Malvinas since 1833. Britain accuses Buenos Aires of ignoring the wishes of the islanders, who say they are happy with their current status as a British outpost.

There is a G-20 country, at the top table of world affairs and one would imagine keen to be responsible on the world stage with a population of about 40 million people, seeking to put an economic blockade in place which will in tangible terms … impoverish an isolated community with about 3,000 people, Browne told reporters ahead of his visit.

Browne, who has held talks in London with Argentinas ambassador Alicia Castro, said the move by the countrys government to sue five British companies involved in oil exploration off the coast of the Falklands were doomed to fail.

The prospect of exploiting undersea gas and oil reserves in the seas surrounding the islands has further fueled hostilities between the British and Argentine governments.

The lawsuits are part of trying to frustrate the economic development of the Falkland Islands, Browne said. But I dont get any sense that what Argentina is doing will impede oil exploration.

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British minister: Argentina denting Falkland Islands economy, risks harming isolated community

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