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Peru: no problem with UK over nixing of ship visit

LIMA, Peru (AP) – President Ollanta Humala says Peru’s decision to cancel a visit last week by a British navy frigate in solidarity with Argentina will not damage relations between his country and Britain.

Peru’s government turned away the HMS Montrose three days before it was to arrive at Lima’s port of Callao, citing Argentina’s long-running dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands. That decision drew a protest note from the British Embassy and criticism from opposition lawmakers.

“There is no impasse, no problem in the diplomatic relations between Great Britain and Peru,” Humala said in a TV interview on Sunday night. “This is an issue relating to the present situation, and our relations continue moving forward.”

He said the decision adhered to the policy of the Union of South American nations, or UNASUR, a budding regional alliance. It has sided with Argentina in its sovereignty claim on the Falklands.

Without referring to Britain, Humala said that in Peru’s foreign policy, “we don’t accept pressure by anyone.”

He added that Peru and Britain nevertheless have “common interests.”

In a communique issued Thursday, the day the frigate’s visit was to have begun, the British Embassy said the cancellation was seen in Britain as “a not very friendly act.”

It also noted Humala told a visiting British diplomat the previous week that he desired to accept an invitation and visit Britain in the future.

Britain is the country’s second largest source of foreign direct investment after Spain. British investment in Peru amounted to $4.45 billion last year, mostly in mining and finance, according to the state investment promotion agency Proinversion.

The decision to cancel that port call, announced by Foreign Minister Rafael Roncagliolo, came after Argentine news media criticized Peru’s initial authorization of the visit despite tensions between Argentina and Britain ahead of the 30th anniversary of their brief war over the Falkland Islands.

Argentina’s government has been trying to use diplomatic and economic power to force Britain into sovereignty talks ahead of the April 2 anniversary of Argentina’s 1982 invasion of the islands, which are known in Latin America as the Islas Malvinas.

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