U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton is due to meet with Argentina's president amid accusations of a snub to Britain over America's refusal to support the UK in the Falklands oil drilling row.
Mrs Clinton is to meet Cristina Ferndandez de Kirchner in Uruguay on March 1, Argentina's ambassador to the U.S. has announced.
Hopes are high in Argentina that Mrs Clinton will intervene on the country's behalf in the row with Britain over the disputed territory.
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High hopes: U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton, left, is due to meet with Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, right, in Uruguay on March 1
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Lack of support: Barack Obama and his wife Michelle at a ceremony at the White House last night. America has not offered its support to the UK in the Falklands oil drilling row
Respected Argentine newspaper La Nacion quoted State Department sources that claimed Mrs Clinton was 'prepared to mediate' in the row.
America's lack of support for Britain was last night blamed on the UK's decision to release sensitive U.S. intelligence on a terror suspect.
President Barack Obama was accused of being 'feeble' by failing to back London in the stand-off with Argentina over the disputed islands, despite the 'special relationship'.
Mrs Clinton and Mrs Kirchner are meeting in Uruguay as they attend the presidential inauguration there of José Mujica.
Argentina already has the support of Latin America and the Caribbean in the row with Britain, and regional leaders are expected to press the case with Mrs Clinton.
London and Buenos Aires are at odds over UK firm Desire Petroleum's decision to drill for oil 60 miles north of the Falklands.
Geologists estimate there are up to 60billion barrels of oil in the seabed.
The Argentine government has tabled a UN resolution condemning the plan. It has also secured backing from 32 South American nations supporting its claim that Britain has occupied the islands illegally since 1833.
But despite Argentina's sabrerattling, senior U.S. officials insist Washington's position on the oil drilling is neutral.
It is also 'taking no position' on the issue of sovereignty of the islands in the South Atlantic.
A senior MP and a respected foreign policy think-tank claimed Washington's stance was 'payback' for the British courts ordering the disclosure of secret CIA files on Binyam Mohamed.
Two weeks ago, the U.S. said it was 'deeply disappointed' that Foreign Secretary David Miliband had been told by Court of Appeal judges to publish closely-guarded information about the former Guantanamo Bay prisoner.
The papers detailed evidence showing MI5 knew that Mohamed, a British citizen, had been tortured by U.S. spies after he was detained in Pakistan in 2002.
This week the White House has refused to endorse the UK's historic sovereignty over the islands and its right to explore
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Sticking point: The British decision to release intelligence information regarding the torture of Binyam Mohammed, above, is said to be behind America's lack of support for the UK
Last night, the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based foreign affairs think-tank, said Mr Obama's stance was linked to anger at the release of the secret files.
Executive director Alan Mendoza said: 'The Obama administration's decision to ignore the democratic rights of the Falkland islanders is disgraceful.
'It can only be motivated by moral weakness in the White House or a misplaced desire to punish Britain for the Binyam Mohamed case and the disclosure of U.S. intelligence documents.
'The decision, while feeble, is unsurprising. For the past year, Mr Obama has followed a foreign policy path that punishes allies and democracies while allowing rogue authoritarian nations like Iran and North Korea to pursue their objectives.'
The criticism was echoed by Tory MP Patrick Mercer, the chairman of the Commons' terrorism sub-committee. 'The U.S. position on the Falklands certainly seems to be a warning shot which says to Britain: "Don't mess us around too much or we could make life problematic",' he said.
Last week, it was revealed that a conference to mark 60 years of UK and American defence intelligence sharing had been cancelled after the Mohamed judgment. It was to have been held at the U.S. Embassy in London.
Relations between the UK and U.S. nosedived last summer over the decision by the Scottish authorities to release the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al Megrahi back to Libya.
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The row between Argentina and Britain centres on the Ocean Guardian, which is drilling for oil off the Falkland Islands
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Yesterday it was revealed that a Spanish company is also set to begin drilling for oil near the Falklands.
Repsol is to start drilling by December some 200 miles off the Argentine coast - 'well within Argentine waters', a spokesman claimed.
Last year, Repsol bought Argentine company YPF - the biggest private oil and gas company in Latin America.
The spokesman told the BBC it will be exploring a 'few' wells some 150 miles from where the Ocean Guardian is drilling.
In 1982, 255 British and 649 Argentine soldiers died when Britain took military action to recover the islands after the Argentine invasion.
Yesterday General Sir Peter de la Billiere, a former UK commander who is vice president of the Falkland Islands Association, issued a 'hands-off' warning to Argentina.
He said the country would suffer the 'most unbearable losses' if it followed up the diplomatic skirmishes with military action.
Sir Peter said: 'We have demonstrated our intention to fulfil the islanders' wishes and support them if they are threatened.
'I can see no reason or justification or political will in the UK to do anything other than that.
'We did not lay down 255 lives just to give up and walk out a few years later.'
Last night, a Foreign Office spokesman denied there was a link between the U.S. position on the Falklands and the Mohamed case.
Argentina's accusations over the Falklands have been compared to 'the case of the lost girlfriend'.
'Argentina lost its girlfriend, and now she is going out with somebody else,' Federico Mac Dougall, an economist and political analyst at the University of Belgrano in Buenos Aires, told the New York Times..
He added: 'And together they may very well strike it rich with oil.'
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Flashback: In 1982, 255 British and 649 Argentine soldiers died when Britain took military action to recover the islands after the Argentine invasion
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