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A British Common Market victory

Its military offensive now well under way - and apparently succeeding - the British government won a major diplomatic victory May 24 as the European Community agreed to extend its ban on Argentine imports for an indefinite period , Monitor contributor Gary Yerkey reports.

Before the meeting of EC foreign ministers Monday, British sources expected the sanctions, which were due to expire that day, to be renewed for no more than another week.

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But the failure of negotiations at the United Nations - combined with Britain's determined decision to retake the Falkland Islands - persuaded European governments to agree to an indefinite extension of the ban.

The EC foreign ministers agreed earlier to renew the sanctions for one week, the implicit aim being to press Britain to negotiate rather than to escalate the military conflict. But Argentina's perceived stubbornness in negotiations edged the Europeans toward extending the sanctions so Argentina would know that Western Europe firmly backed its British ally.

Ireland and Italy did not go along with the sanctions, but they agreed not to undermine the ban.

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