HMS Dauntless at the centre of new Argentina/UK diplomatic row

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Argentina is to make a formal complaint to the United Nations Security Council after accusing Britain of ‘militarising’ their long dispute over the Falkland Islands.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said the UK’s decision to send Portsmouth-based HMS Dauntless, one of its most modern navy warships, to the South Atlantic and to post the Duke of Cambridge on military duty in the region posed a risk to ‘international security’.

Her announcement comes amid simmering tensions between London and Buenos Aires in the run-up to the 30th anniversary of the 1982 Falklands war, which saw Argentinian forces invade the archipelago in a row over its sovereignty.

Speaking to an audience including Falkland war veterans and other politicians at Argentina’s presidential residence yesterday, Ms Kirchner said: ‘I have instructed our chancellor to present formally to the Security Council of the United Nations and before the General Assembly of the United Nations this militarisation of the South Atlantic which implies a great risk for international security.’

Following the speech, the UK government insisted that it would not enter into negotiations over the sovereignty of the disputed islands. A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘The people of the Falkland Islands are British out of choice. They are free to determine their own future and there will be no negotiations with Argentina over sovereignty unless the islanders wish it.’

Relations between the UK and Argentina have been frosty in recent months.

In December, Prime Minister David Cameron accused the Buenos Aires administration of ‘colonialism’ after the Mercosur grouping of countries, which includes Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay, announced that it would ban ships sailing under the Falkland Islands flag from docking at their ports.

Last week Prince William began a six-week posting in the Falklands region in his role as an RAF search and rescue pilot, while the Government has also revealed it is to send HMS Dauntless, to the South Atlantic. The Type 45 destroyer is due to set sail for the region on her maiden mission in the coming months to replace frigate HMS Montrose.

In her speech, Ms Kirchner said it was difficult to see how ‘the sending of an immense and modern destroyer accompanied by the Royal heir who we would have liked to see in civilian clothes and not in military uniform’ was not a show of purposeful military strength by the UK. She said Argentina would be opposing “this militarisation of the South Atlantic” because it was a region where ‘peace reigns’.

William Hague has described the deployments of HMS Dauntless and Prince William as ‘entirely routine’ and said that commemorations would go ahead to mark the 30-year anniversary of the conflict in April. He also accused Argentina of attempting to “raise the diplomatic temperature” on the Falklands issue.