UNITED NATIONS, June 23 (UPI) -- Argentina took its claim over British-ruled Falkland Islands to a U.N. meeting on decolonization with the clear aim of capitalizing on the talks' agenda. The usually placid annual session of the U.N. Decolonization Committee, C24, was given a populist political make-over in Argentine media as Argentina's newly designated Minister of Foreign Affairs Hector Timerman was announced as the leader of the team. Argentine diplomats said Argentina would put forward a strong case for ending British rule over the Falklands during discussions Thursday and Friday. But there was no immediate news of an upcoming debate as suggested by the Argentine side.
British officials weren't available to comment on the meeting and Argentina's plan for turning the session into a "debate" over the Falklands. Argentina and Britain went to war over the Falklands in 1982 after Argentina, backed by the ruling junta at the time, invaded the South Atlantic islands. Britain beat back the occupation and got Argentina to sign a surrender but Buenos Aires never gave up its claim on the islands. The 74-day conflict led to deaths of about 1,000 military personnel and three civilians. Timerman, former ambassador in Washington and the first Argentine Jewish foreign affairs minister, has been preparing for the session with Argentina's U.N. envoy Jorge Arguello.
In the first comments after his appointment, Timerman spelled out his loyalty to President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, saying he foresaw no changes in policy after the departure of his predecessor, Jorge Taiana, because the policy was set by Fernandez. In Falkland terms, analysts said this meant Timerman would make a strong case for Argentina's claim over the Falklands. He cited as main issues for Argentina the strengthening of its ties with Brazil, issues with Iran, stronger trade ties with the United States and sovereignty claims over the Falklands. With Brazil "we are building a union based on a strong coincidence of interests, common positions in international forums and economic integration in the framework of Mercosur," the regional trade bloc, he said.
With the United States Argentina enjoyed "the level of links which we wish to have with the world's leading power" but thought there was room for improvement in trade, especially agricultural commodities. On Iran, Timerman said he would pursue requests from the Argentine justice department to question and judge all those responsible for a 1994 attack on a Jewish center in the heart of Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. "An Argentine federal court has requested the extradition of several Iranian officials allegedly involved in the attack. It is for Iran to have them extradited so they can face trial in Argentina," he added.