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Britain and Mauritius announce talks on Chagos archipelago

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London and Port-Louis announced on Thursday, November 3, the opening of negotiations on the Chagos Islands, British territory which protects the American military base Diego Garcia. The archipelago, a strategic territory in the southeastern Indian Ocean, is claimed by Mauritius. This dispute has poisoned relations between the former colonial power and Mauritius for 54 years.

With our correspondent in Port-Louis, Abdullah Earally

As if to illustrate the great importance of this decision from London, the Prime Minister of Mauritius chose to address the National Assembly. Pravind Jugnauth repeated almost word for word the press release from the British Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly.

London and Port-Louis agree on the opening of negotiations on the issue of sovereignty for this strategic archipelago, detached from the territory of Mauritius by the British in 1965, three years before the independence of Mauritius. A decision that was illegalin the eyes of Port-Louis.

In February 2019, the International Court of Justice recognized Mauritius’ sovereignty over the Chagos. And three months later, the UN General Assembly demanded Britain’s withdrawal from this territory. Two years after this historic recognition, against the backdrop of great embarrassment for London and its American ally, which occupies the site with its base of Diego Garciareturns the file to the mat.

London and Port-Louis announce their intention to find an agreement based on international law to resolve all outstanding issues, including those concerning the former inhabitants of the archipelago. During the Cold War, 2,000 Chagossians were expelled to empty this country of any inhabitants before the American occupation. The few survivors and their descendants, mostly living in Mauritius, have constantly demanded the right to return. A way out may be in sight; Britain and Mauritius are hoping for an agreement in early 2023.

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