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Montevideo, February 6th 2023 - 19:48 UTC

 

 

Chagos: Mauritius and UK agree military base on Diego García will remain, says Foreign Secretary

Saturday, November 5th 2022 - 11:03 UTC
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The UN's highest court, the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, has ruled that the UK's administration of the territory is “unlawful” and must end. The UN's highest court, the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, has ruled that the UK's administration of the territory is “unlawful” and must end.

The UK and Mauritius have agreed to hold talks on the future of the disputed British Indian Ocean Overseas Territory/Chagos Islands, and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the countries agreed that the UK-US military base on Diego Garcia will continue to operate whatever the results of the talks.

Mauritius claims the remote archipelago in the Indian Ocean in full –but it is administered by the UK.

The Foreign Secretary said the UK wants to broker an agreement backed by international law to “resolve all outstanding issues” over the Indian Ocean archipelago, a British overseas territory since 1814.

“The UK and Mauritius have agreed to engage in constructive negotiations, with a view to arriving at an agreement by early next year,” Mr. Cleverly said in a written ministerial statement.

In 1965, Britain chose to separate the Islands from Mauritius and set up a military base there, later leased to the United States in the midst of the Vietnam conflict.

Chagossians have spent decades fighting to return to their Islands after more than 1,000 people were forced to leave in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for the base.

The United Nation's highest court, the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, has ruled that the UK's administration of the territory is “unlawful” and must end.

Mauritius, which won independence from the UK in 1968, maintains the Islands are its own and Chagossians have fought for their return in the British courts.

Mr Cleverly said the UK has agreed to negotiations “on the exercise of sovereignty” of the islands.

The progress follows talks between Liz Truss, during her short window as prime minister, and Mauritian leader Pravind Jugnauth at the UN General Assembly in New York in September.

“Through negotiations, taking into account relevant legal proceedings, it is our intention to secure an agreement on the basis of international law to resolve all outstanding issues, including those relating to the former inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago,” the Foreign Secretary wrote.

The Falklands Islands governor Alison Blake MGS referred to the matter in a release pointing out that this does not represent a broader shift in UK policy towards the Falkland Islands or the right of the Falkland Islanders to determine their own future.

“On 3 November 2022, the UK government notified Parliament that the UK and Mauritius had agreed to begin negotiations on the exercise of sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory BIOT/Archipelago.

”UK ministers are very clear that this does not represent a broader shift in UK policy towards the Falkland Islands, which is a modern relationship based on partnership, shared values and the right of the Falkland Islanders to determine their own future.

“The UK government will always defend UK sovereignty in the South Atlantic and remains committed to upholding the rights of the Falkland Islands people to determine their own future. The Falkland Islanders have clearly stated their views in the 2013 referendum, when 99,8% voted for the Islands to remain a UK self governed Overseas Territory”.

Categories: Politics, International.

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