By Aislinn Laing

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile on Friday reaffirmed its claim to submarine territory off its southern coast in a dispute with Argentina, which said the Santiago decision violated international treaties.

Last week, Chile officially claimed 5,000 square kilometers (1,930 square miles) of continental shelf in the Drake Sea, between Chile’s Cape Horn, its mainland and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. The sharp piece of underwater territory is known as Medialuna, and the claim includes the water above.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said on Friday that the claim was “legitimate” and that the two countries historically had “overlapping” claims over 25,000 square kilometers (10,000 square miles) in the region.

“This is clearly in line with international law,” he said. “How do we resolve this overlap? As countries that act with wisdom and prudence, with dialogue and agreements.

Argentina last week accused Chile of violating the 1984 peace treaty that ended the Beagle conflict between the military administrations of the two countries over the islands in the fractured southern tip of South America. .

Argentina said Chile did not contest Buenos Aires’ claim in a representation at the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 2009. Chile said it said at the time that Argentina’s claim was “unenforceable”.

Daniel Filmus, Argentina’s secretary for Antarctica, the South Atlantic and Las Malvinas, as the disputed British territory of the Falklands is known there, said on Thursday that Argentina would seek UN intervention.

“Our position is clear. There is nothing to discuss, ”he said in an interview on local television.

The dispute arises as elections approach in both countries, with their administrations facing challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and recession in Argentina and social protests in Chile.

Britain is keeping a close watch on the territorial dispute as Argentina has also stepped up efforts to regain the Falklands.

(Reporting by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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