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UN chief Ban Ki-moon weighs in on Falkland Islands dispute

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement Friday expressing 'concern about the increasingly strong exchanges' between Argentina and Britain over the Falkland Islands

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Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, left, meets with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at the U.N., Friday, Feb. 10, 2012.

(AP Photo/UN, Eskinder Debebe)

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 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed hope that Argentina and Britain can avoid an escalation of their Falkland Islands dispute when he met Friday with the South American country's foreign minister, Hector Timerman, the UN chief's office said.

Ban "expressed concern about the increasingly strong exchanges" between the two governments and said the U.N. would be happy to help mediate the dispute if asked, according to a summary of the meeting by the secretary-general's office.

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Argentina and Britain fought a war over the islands in 1982, and tensions between the two countries have risen in recent weeks over the status of the territory off the Argentine coast in the South Atlantic Ocean.

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The islands, which are a British dependency, are also claimed by Argentina, which refers to them as Las Malvinas.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has said her country will formally complain to the U.N. Security Council that Britain has created a serious security risk by sending one of its most modern warships to the region. The British government said it recently sent destroyer HMS Dauntless to replace another ship in a routine operation.

Britain's Foreign Office has repeatedly ruled out negotiations unless the Falklands' inhabitants say they want change.

Timerman also had meetings planned Friday with Togo's Ambassador Kodjo Menan, who holds the rotating U.N. Security Council presidency, and Cuban Ambassador Pedro Nunez Mosquera, who heads the U.N. Decolonization Committee.

Timerman is addressing the press Friday afternoon. British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant has scheduled his own news conference afterward.

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