Chile confirms that it will not bar shipping arriving from the Falkland Islands

15 Mar

Jeremy Browne, the British Minister for Foreign Affairs, met with Chile’s Chancellor Alfredo Moreno yesterday and agreed that while Chile supported Argentina’s ‘legitimate’ claims to the Falkland Islands, Chile would continue to accept shipping arriving at its ports, from the Falkland Islands.

Confirming that Chile recognised the principle of self-determination, the British Minister said; “We understand the position taken by the Chilean Government and the need for Chile have a constructive relationship with its neighbours.”  

In accordance with diplomatic norms, Jeremy Browne was met by his opposite number and talks took place at a ministerial level. The Minister’s arrival in Chile ahead of a State visit by Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernandez, raised a few eyebrows in Buenos Aires and apparently caused some discomfort for the Chilean Government of Sebastián Piñera, who is trying to maintain friendly relations with both Britain and Argentina.

Following his meetings, Minister Browne informed the press that Alfredo Moreno had reassured him that Chile would not become involved with Argentina’s economic blockade of the Falklands, or assist in any attempt to isolate the peoples of the archipelago. President Fernandez has voiced her opposition to the weekly flight between Chile and the Falkland Islands, and there is little doubt that she will try to persuade Piñera  to cancel the link. Argentina does have the power to forbid the airline flying over its own airspace, a fact recognised by Jeremy Browne; “The cancellation of flights will not will be decided ultimately by the British and Chilean Governments.”

The issue of flags was also raised in light of a general Mercosur agreement to bar vessels flying the Falklands Flag from entering South American ports. Chile, whilst not a member of Mercosur has announced that it will follow this policy, but yesterday confirmed that the ban only affected ships flying that flag and that it would not impede others flying a flag of the red ensign group, or any vessel just because it had come from the Islands.

“What Chile has done is say that it will not accept ships that use the flag of the Islands, given that it is a flag that we do not recognise. Any ships using another flag, that go to or come from the Falklands will not have any problem in Chilean ports.” said Minister Moreno.

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