Actor Penn urges Falklands talks

Tue, Feb 14, 2012, 00:00

Hollywood actor Sean Penn has weighed into the Falklands dispute amid growing tension between Britain and Argentina.

Last week, the UK was forced to dismiss claims it was “militarising” the situation in the South Atlantic by deploying nuclear weapons nearby.

Penn met Argentine president Cristina Kirchner in Buenos Aires and urged Britain to join United Nations-sponsored talks over what he called “the Malvinas Islands of Argentina”.

“It’s necessary that these diplomatic talks happen between the United Kingdom and Argentina,” he said. “I think that the world today is not going to tolerate any kind of ludicrous and archaic commitment to colonialist ideology.”

The Oscar-winner (51) made the comments following months of escalating rhetoric between the two nations.

Most recently, Argentina has said it had intelligence that a Vanguard submarine had been sent to the area and demanded to know whether it was carrying warheads.

“Thus far the UK refuses to say whether it is true or not,” foreign minister Hector Timerman told a press conference. “Are there nuclear weapons or are there not? The information Argentina has is that there are these nuclear weapons.”

The accusation, made through a translator, came as Mr Timerman urged the UN to intervene in the long-running row over the islands.

He said Britain was using an “unjustified defence of self-determination” to maintain a military base on the Falklands, which allowed it to dominate the Atlantic.

But Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Sir Mark Lyall Grant branded the idea that the UK was “militarising” the situation “manifestly absurd”.

In recent months, prime minister David Cameron and president Kirchner have traded barbs prompting UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to issue a statement expressing “concern about the increasingly strong exchanges”.

Tempers flared after Britain deployed one of its most modern destroyers, HMS Dauntless, to the region, although it insisted the move was merely routine.

The Duke of Cambridge’s arrival in the Falklands for a posting as an RAF search and rescue pilot has further infuriated Buenos Aires.

And there were protests after the website of Falklands newspaper the Penguin News ran a photo of Mrs Kirchner labelled “bitch”.