MONTEVIDEO (AFP) - Spain offered Argentina its support in seeking to win control of the Falklands from Britain, likening the dispute to his own country's conflict with London over Gibraltar.
Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo compared his country's battle to get London to surrender sovereignty over Gibraltar -- a small, rocky outpost ruled by Britain for three centuries -- with Argentina's demand for control of the Falklands Islands.
"The similarities are enormous," Garcia-Margallo told a news conference in Montevideo, Uruguay adding that both Gibraltar and Falklands were in need of "decolonization."
The Falklands War
Argentina is embroiled in an escalating diplomatic row with Britain over the Falkland Islands, the object of a brief, bloody 1982 war which Buenos Aires lost.
“La Guerra de Las Malvinas,” or “The Malvinas War,” as the islands are known in Argentina, left 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel and 3 Falkland Islanders dead.
Britain’s victory bolstered the government of the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, but lead to protests against and the eventual downfall of the ruling military junta of Argentina at that time.
Garcia-Margallo added that Argentina "can count on Spain's support" in its effort to regain control of the Falklands.
He criticized Britain's position that inhabitants of the disputed territories are entitled to self-determination and have themselves resolved to remain under London's control.
But he added that Spain was ready to discuss the issue with Britain at any time.
Tensions over the Falklands Islands have become particularly intense over the past year, the 30th anniversary of the conflict.
And they have been further intensified by British moves to open waters around the Falklands to oil exploration.
Britain has insisted it will not discuss sovereignty as long as the 3,000 people on the wind-swept islands want to remain under the British flag
Gibraltar is a territory on the southern tip of Spain which measures just 6.8 square kilometers (2.6 square miles) and is home to about 30,000 people.
The latest tensions between Madrid and London over the outpost began in July after Gibraltar boats dumped blocks of concrete into the sea near the territory.
Gibraltar said it was creating an artificial reef that would foster fish populations.