June 19, 2008

Uruguay Preparing Defense Over Argentine Indictment Against Paper Mill

Uruguay preparing defense over Argentine indictment against paper mill

MONTEVIDEO, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Uruguay is preparing its defense against the Argentine demand in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over a controversial paper pulp plant on a river that forms the border between both countries, local media reported Tuesday.

Authorities will hold a meeting in Uruguay's capital Montevideo later this month to "give the final touches to the answer to the demand," which should be handed in to the ICJ before July 29, said Hector Gros Espiell, the chief of the Uruguayan defense in The Hague.

The ICJ will consider the letter and set the date for a hearing before October, he said.

"The content of the letter will not be revealed because it is part of the work strategy," Alicia Torres, the head of the Uruguayan National Environment Directorate, told a local radio station.

He said that according to analysis, the plant meets international norms on environmental quality.

In January, Argentina presented a document of accusation to the ICJ, saying the paper mill, which was set up by the Finnish company Botnia, breaks the Uruguay River Treaty by polluting the river that forms the border between the two countries.

The plant began producing cellulose last November in the Uruguayan town of Fray Bentos, 310 km northeast of Montevideo. It was built at a cost of 1.2 billion U.S. dollars and is expected to produce 1 million tons of cellulose annually.

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