- Title: UNITED KINGDOM: Government says Falkland drilling falls within international law
- Date: 24th February 2010
- Summary: SLATE INFORMATION
- Embargoed: 11th March 2010 12:00
- Topics: International Relations,Energy
- Reuters ID: LVAAFLQXY2Z0TEMW910SX9K8YXQ8
- Story Text: Britain's foreign minister rejects Argentina's objections to oil exploration off the disputed Falkland Islands and says the drilling is within international law.
Britain rejected Argentine objections to oil exploration off the disputed Falkland Islands on Tuesday (February 23), saying the drilling was within international law.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said Latin American leaders backed her objections to exploration off the Falklands, known in Spanish as Las Malvinas, as drilling began on the first well on Monday (February 22).
Argentina, which has claimed the South Atlantic islands since Britain established its rule in the 19th century, invaded them in 1982. After a two-month war, it was forced to withdraw, but still claims the archipelago and says oil exploration by Britain's Desire Petroleum is a breach of sovereignty.
"British sovereignty in respect of the Falklands is absolutely clear in international law and in international politics. There is no question about it," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said after giving a speech at the Demos think tank in London.
"The exploration that is going on off the Falklands is fully within international law, fully based on precedent," he said.
Falkland islanders have the right to a decent life and to build their own economic future, he said.
Argentina formally objected to the plan to drill for oil near the islands and said it would require all ships from the Falklands to obtain permits to dock in Argentina.
The "Rio Group" of Latin American leaders, meeting this week in Mexico, issued a statement on Tuesday supporting Argentina's demands to halt drilling around the Falklands.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the matter should be revisited by the United Nations.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he did not expect any direct contact between Brown and Fernandez on the issue and said Britain had given no thought to any military response.
The Falklands are not an onshore oil producer and have no proven onshore reserves, but oil companies are betting that offshore fields hold billions of recoverable barrels of oil.
Desire Petroleum said it broke ground at a well on its offshore "Liz" prospect, which could contain up to 400 million barrels, though the exploration may recover nothing.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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