`Patagonia' offers flag back


Paris - The self-declared consul of the "Kingdom of Patagonia" offered yesterday to return a British flag he claimed he seized on British rocks - the Minquiers - between England and France but said the handover must be on neutral ground - a Paris bar.

"I'll propose to do it, say on Thursday, on neutral ground, at the bar of Hotel Crillon, or Hotel Bristol," "Consul General" Jean Raspail said. Raspail, a writer, has proposed to "honourably return to her British Majesty's embassy in Paris" the flag that apparently flew over the Minquiers rocks. No comment was immediately available from the British embassy. The Crillon, where the French government accommodates visiting foreign dignitaries, is on the central Place de la Concorde. The Bristol is near the Elysee presidential palace and the embassy.

Raspail has claimed that a naval unit of the fictitious "Kingdom of Patagonia" hoisted its blue-white-green flag in place of the Union flag on Sunday over the Minquiers.

Raspail (73) won the literary prize of the French Academy in 1981 for his novel I, Antoine de Tounens, King of Patagonia, about a Frenchman who declared a short lived kingdom in Argentina's Patagonia over a century ago.