President Obama Makes Falklands Gaffe by Calling Malvinas the Maldives

Barack Obama made an uncharacteristic error, more akin to those of his predecessor George W Bush, by referring to the Falkland Islands as the Maldives.

While speaking at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, President Obama mistakenly referred to the Falklands Islands as the Maldives, instead of the Malvinas - the Spanish name for the islands off the southeastern coast of South America. Photo: Pete Souza/The Official White House

President Obama made a gaffe during a speech at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, when attempting to call the disputed archipelago by its Spanish name, reports The Telegraph.

Barack Obama mistakenly referred to the Falklands Islands as the Maldives, instead of the Malvinas – the Spanish name for the islands off the southeastern coast of South America.

By making such a mistake, tells The Washington Times, President Obama affirmed American neutrality in the dispute between Argentina and England over the Falkland Islands. He managed to make it clear that the “special relationship” between the UK and the United States is not very special.

According to Examiner, the Maldives, a group of islands off the coast of India, half a world away from the Falklands, and a British protectorate from 1887 to 1965, was the site of a British airbase for 20 years.

The Malvinas – or Falklands Islands, has been a source of contention between Argentina and Great Britain for years.

America supported the UK during the 1982 war between the UK and Argentina over the Falklands, due to the relationship between the two countries, and between President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher. The Argentines were furious, but their government was politically weak.

Most of Latin America then openly backed Argentina in the war, as did Libya.

Cristina Kirchner, the Argentine president, has renewed her country’s sovereignty claim to the islands in the build-up to the 30th anniversary of the Argentine invasion of the islands on April 2, which initiated the Falklands War.

Kirchner has accused British Prime Minister David Cameron of maintaining a “colonial enclave” in the South Atlantic and taken Argentina’s claim to the UN.

But she left the summit last night as Colombian press reported she was unhappy that a declaration of support for the Argentine claim to the British-controlled territory was not included in the summit’s final document, which went unsigned after the USA and Canada used their vetoes

Kirchner had previously confirmed their support in the diplomatic dispute over the islands, was seeking further backing from the Americas.

In his address, President Obama maintained the USA’s of neutrality over the Falklands, stating that he wanted to ensure good relations with both Argentina and Britain.

“This is something in which we would not typically intervene,” Obama said, adding that there should be dialogue between the UK and Argentina even though the Coalition refuses to negotiate sovereignty of the Falklands with Mrs Kirchner’s government.

The gaffe is unlikely to influence Barack Obama’s position in his re-election campaign. But Reuters reports that his lead over Mitt Romney has narrowed to 4 percentage points from 11 points a month ago.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted from April 12-15, Obama was backed by 47 percent of registered voters compared with 43 percent who supported Romney.

In the same poll conducted March 8-11, Obama led Romney by 52 percent to 41 percent.

In comparison, during the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama led his Republican rival John McCain by a much larger margin, 52 percent to 40 percent, on jobs and the economy, as the Democrat won the election.

Mitt Romney is the last major rival for the Republican nomination to oppose Obama’s re-election left the race before the poll was conducted.

Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator best known for strongly conservative views on social issues that pushed the Republican campaign to the right, ended his run for the White House on April 10.

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