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Argentina, Chile face off again

The Argentine-Chilean dispute over territory at the tip of South america has heated up again with Argentine charges that a Chilean missile launcher this week sailed provocatively into waters claimed by Argentina.

Monitor Latin america correspondent James Nelson Goodsell observes that a long-simmering dispute over islands in the mouth of the Beagle Channel has mushroomed into a major issue that threatens to break out into incidents between the military forces of the two countries.

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It almost did once before -- two years ago -- but papal arbitration kept the issue from escalating until recently. Then when a papal comment in January seemed to favor Chile, the issue flared anew. Now, with the latest Argentine charges, it is heating up considerably.

Chilean Adm. Jose Toribio Merino said the Argentine charge was a "provocative act" and that chile had every right to be in the waters, for they are part of its 200-mile territoriality. And there's the rub -- the waters in question are claimed by both coun tries.

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