The US will remain on the sidelines in the dispute between the UK and Argentina over the Falkland Islands sovereignty, said President Barack Obama on Sunday at the conclusion of the Summit of the Americas in Colombia.
“We’re going to remain neutral,” Obama said at a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. “This is not something that we typically intervene in”.
“We have good relations with Argentina and Britain and we hope they are capable of continuing the dialogue on the issue”, added Obama who on Saturday held a bilateral meeting with President Cristina Fernandez.
However President Santos underlined the strong support for the Argentine position from the majority of the 31 leaders who attended the summit. “The great majority of countries called on both sides for a peaceful resolution of the controversy”.
But Santos also admitted that the Falklands/Malvinas and Cuban issues were the most intransigent impeding a consensus and therefore no final declaration from the summit.
“We had two options, focus exclusively on drafting a resolution on the usual terms, vacuous, as has happened so many times, or speak frankly with the issues on the table: those issues we share and unite us and those which divide us. We decided for the second: all the issues on the table, those that unite us but also those that divide us”, summed up president Santos who nevertheless praised the summit for its “dialogue and sincerity”.
“Most countries support the participation of Cuba in the Summit of the Americas and many said that a process must be initiated so that this objective becomes effective when the next Summit” indicated Santos who then added that the “in the Malvinas situation all participants of the summit have confirmed their consensus position in statements from the OAS (Organization of American States). This time the debate took place without modifying those agreements and the majority of countries called for a peaceful solution to the controversy”.
Uruguayan president Jose Mujica also made reference to the lack of a statement on Cuba and Malvinas and said that “the two political issues at the summit were really those which are not mentioned”, but he added this was anticipated and coincidences were reached in some obvious points such as inequality, poverty, sustained and inclusive development.
Brazil’s international affairs advisor Marco Aurelio Garcia said the presidents did not stamp a final declaration at the end of the summit because of the positions from the US and Canada vetoing a proposal to invite Cuba to participate in the coming summits, but also because “of the lack of support for the Argentine sovereignty claim over the Malvinas”.
Meanwhile President Cristina Fernandez anticipated her return to Buenos Aires leaving immediately following the ‘family’ photo of all the leaders.
Brushing aside rumours that the president advanced her return because of a lack of consensus on the Malvinas issue, sources close to the delegation that travelled to Colombia said that the anticipated return was on the “official agenda”.
Apparently President Santos promised his Argentine peer that at the final press conference he would refer to the Malvinas issue and the strong continental support for the Argentine claim. Santos also downplayed the fact that Cristina Fernandez left before the end of the summit, “she had business to attend” in Argentina.
However the Colombian leader revealed that following his opening speech of the summit on Saturday, the only one to be aired on Colombian national television, President Cristina Fernandez approached Santos and said “your forgot to mention the Malvinas issue”.