Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday called President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera (left) to discuss the conflict between Argentina and Britain over the Falkland Islands. I understand that the Coalition leader chose this time for the call to get Senor Piñera’s undivided attention, as the Chilean President is currently on holiday in the southern half of the country.
Sources confirmed the emphasis laid by Cameron on the Falkland Islanders’ right to self determination, but at the same time the UK PM’s “strong desire” to continue a dialogue with Chile on the issue. Pinera told the British leader that he respected the positions of both Argentina and Great Britain. Chile has in recent years supported the Argentine Falklands claim, and in December joined Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) in blocking all vessels flying the Falklands Island flag.
The conversation “was not brief”. I’m clearly being told here that this was no ‘off-chance chat’, and that Dave will be phoning again soon, which must be comforting for the Chilean, who has no desire to get dragged into the dispute. Diplomatic sources also suggest that the call will be followed up with more official contacts via the Foreign Office, and it seems that Cameron has confirmed a State visit to Santiago in January 2012.
“Talk softly and carry a big stick”, as Teddy Roosevelt once remarked. Or alternatively, cut the armed forces and then talk a good game.