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Argentina Makes Threats to Oil Companies
By Harold Hutchison

Argentina raised the stakes in its long-running dispute over the Falkland Islands by threatening to prosecute oil companies for theft if they explore for oil around the disputed islands.

Argentinean Foreign Minister Hector Timerman vowed to take companies exploring for oil and gas to court, saying, “We will continue the legal action against the oil companies who are doing hydrocarbon-related exploration activities in the south Atlantic, because they are stealing part of the natural resources of Argentina.”

The British expelled Argentinean forces from the islands in June, 1982, after an Argentinean invasion force seized the islands. Since then, the islands have been a diplomatic sore spot. A referendum on the future of the islands is slated for this coming March.

The Argentinean foreign minister refused a meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague due to the latter’s insistence that inhabitants of the Islands be present at the meeting.

"There is no way such a conversation could have taken place without members of the Falkland Islands government being present, especially given the current Argentine government's behaviour towards the Islanders. It is, and must always be, for them to decide their own future,'' Hague said in a statement.