Mauritius and UK agree Diego García military base will remain, says Foreign Minister — MercoPress
Chagos: Mauritius and UK agree Diego García military base will remain, says Foreign Minister
The UK and Mauritius have agreed to hold talks on the future of the disputed British Indian Ocean/Chagos Islands Overseas Territory, and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly says the countries have agreed that the Anglo-American military base at Diego Garcia would continue to operate regardless of the results. talks.
Mauritius claims the entire remote Indian Ocean archipelago, but it is administered by the United Kingdom.
The Foreign Secretary says the UK wants to broker a deal 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 reaching an agreement 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 amid the Vietnam conflict.
The Chagossians 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 Nations’ highest court, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, has ruled that the UK’s administration of the territory was “unlawful” and must end.
Mauritius, which gained independence from the UK in 1968, maintains that the islands belong to it and that the Chagossians fought for their return in British courts.
Mr Cleverly said the UK had agreed to negotiations “on the exercise of sovereignty” of the islands.
The progress follows talks between Liz Truss, during her short time as prime minister, and Mauritian leader Pravind Jugnauth at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.
“Through negotiations, taking into account the relevant legal proceedings, our intention is to reach an agreement on the basis of international law to resolve all outstanding issues, including those relating to the former inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago”, wrote the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Falkland Islands Governor Alison Blake MGS addressed the issue in a statement stressing that it does not represent a broader shift in UK policy towards the Falkland Islands or the right of Falkland Islanders to determine their own future.
“On November 3, 2022, the UK Government notified Parliament that the UK and Mauritius had agreed to enter into negotiations on the exercise of sovereignty over the UK 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 people of the Falkland Islands to determine their own future.
“The UK Government will always defend UK sovereignty in the South Atlantic and remain committed to defending the rights of the people of the Falkland Islands to determine their own future. The Falkland Islands made their views clear in the 2013 referendum , when 99.8% voted for the islands to remain a self-governing British Overseas Territory”.