* Falklands a source of tension between U.K., Argentina
* Other Latin Americans nations support Argentina
MONTEVIDEO, March 1 Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton said on Monday the United States stood ready to help
Argentina and Britain resolve new tensions over the disputed
Falkland Islands, which sparked a war between the two countries
"We'll be going to Buenos Aires later today, I look forward
to meeting with President (Cristina Fernandez) de Kirchner and
discussing a full range of issues," Clinton said during an
appearance in Montevideo, where she was attending the
inauguration of new Uruguyan President Jose Mujica.
"It is our position that this is a matter to be resolved
between the United Kingdom and Argentina. If we can be of any
help in facilitating such an effort, we stand ready to do so,"
Argentina has objected to a British company's oil
exploration off the Falklands, known in Spanish as Las
Malvinas, but Britain has rejected the complaint.
Clinton's offer of help came on the first full day of a
Latin America tour that will later take her to quake-hit Chile
and regional heavyweight Brazil along with Costa Rica and
Argentina, which has claimed the South Atlantic islands
since Britain established its rule in the 19th century, invaded
them in 1982. After a two-month war, it was forced to withdraw,
but still claims the archipelago and says oil exploration by
Britain's Desire Petroleum DES.L is a breach of sovereignty.
Argentina formally objected to the drilling and said it
would require all ships from the Falklands to obtain permits to
dock in Argentina.
The "Rio Group" of Latin American leaders, meeting last
month in Mexico, issued a statement supporting Argentina's
demands to halt drilling around the Falklands, and Fernandez
has said Latin American nations back Argentina in the dispute.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the
matter should be revisited by the United Nations.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said
last week he did not expect any direct contact between Brown
and Fernandez on the issue and said Britain had given no
thought to any military response.
The Falklands are not an onshore oil producer and have no
proven onshore reserves, but oil companies are betting that
offshore fields hold billions of recoverable barrels of oil.
Desire Petroleum said it broke ground at a well on its
offshore "Liz" prospect, which could contain up to 400 million
barrels, though the exploration may recover nothing.
The United States attempted to be neutral in the 1982
military clash, with then-Secretary of State Alexander Haig
embarking on shuttle diplomacy that sought a negotiated
Argentina's ill-fated Falklands campaign is widely seen as a
mistake by the discredited military dictatorship ruling at the
time. However, Argentina's government has said it will continue
to seek sovereignty over the islands.
(Reporting by Andrew Quinn; editing by Philip Barbara)