by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Feb 4, 2012
Britain's Prince William has begun his duties as a search and rescue pilot in the Falkland Islands, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Saturday, a deployment which has infuriated Argentina.
The 29-year-old, who is second in line to the throne, has been sent to the South Atlantic archipelago as a routine part of his duties as an Royal Air Force (RAF) Sea King helicopter pilot.
But his six-week stint on the barren islands has enraged Buenos Aires, which says the Falklands are occupied Argentine territory. It has condemned the prince's tour as a "provocation".
William, the eldest son of the heir to the throne Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, arrived in the British overseas territory on Thursday.
His first day on duty involved briefings on his role, which could include rescuing stranded fishermen, whisking patients to hospital or dropping off supplies to remote areas, said the ministry.
"Flight Lieutenant Wales has commenced his duties as an RAF search and rescue (SAR) helicopter pilot in the Falkland Islands providing SAR cover for both the civilian and military population," the MoD said in a statement.
The timing of the deployment has added to tensions ahead of the 30th anniversary of the war between Britain and Argentina over the Falklands.
The windswept islands, home to about 3,000 people staunchly loyal to Britain, have been held by Britain since 1833.
On April 2, 1982, the then-ruling junta in Argentina invaded the Falklands, sparking a 74-day war with Britain which cost the lives of 649 Argentine and 255 British troops.
William's first shift at the RAF Mount Pleasant base on East Falkland -- a garrison built after the war -- involved briefings on the local flying environment and familiarisation with the area and the job.
He is part of a four-man crew.
"A posting to operations in the Falklands is a vital part of the career progression for an SAR pilot. The experience they get here is second to none," said Squadron Leader Miles Bartlett, the SAR officer commanding.
"It is a challenging and varied job providing an essential capability to the military and the Falkland Islands population."
SAR crews have to contend with inhospitable weather, while the population outside the capital Stanley often live in very remote and rugged areas.
The prince is there in his capacity as an RAF pilot only and will not be undertaking any royal duties on the islands.
The prince transferred from a base on Anglesey, northwest Wales.
His wife Catherine, whom he married last year in a ceremony broadcast around the world, remains in Britain and will complete her first solo public engagements during her husband's absence.
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Iran will respond to any oil, military threats: Khamenei
Tehran (AFP) Feb 3, 2012
Iran will respond with threats of its own to intensifying warnings of military attacks and Western sanctions, its supreme leader said Friday in remarks particularly aimed at archfoe the United States. "The United States and others have to know - and they know - that, in response to threats of oil embargo and war, we have our own threats which will be implemented at the right time, if neces ... read more
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