Spain and Panama submitted a resolution to the Security Council today calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Falkland Islands fighting after Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar reported to the council that he had failed in his second attempt to resolve the crisis.
A vote on the resolution is expected Thursday, but it was not yet clear whether Argentina, which favors it, could muster the nine-vote majority required on the 15-nation council.
British officials reaffirmed their opposition to any cease-fire in the absence of a unilateral Argentine withdrawal from the islands, and the British ambassador, Sir Anthony Parsons, told the council Britain would veto the draft if necessary.
So there was no expectation that the resolution would end the fighting. Rather, Argentina's object was to force a veto to dramatize what it calls British isolation and intransigence.
Perez de Cuellar's first attempt to mediate collapsed just hours before the British invasion May 21. One week ago, the council asked him to negotiate "mutually acceptable terms for a cease-fire." It asked for his interim report by today.
"It is my considered judgment," he reported, "that the positions of the two parties do not offer the possibility of developing at this time the terms for a cease-fire which would be mutually acceptable."
The "detailed exchanges" with British and Argentine representatives went on until this morning, he said. Perez de Cuellar said his efforts would continue.
U.N. officials said the British position remained that a cease-fire was possible only with a unilateral Argentine withdrawal, leaving British forces in control of the Falklands.
"Of course, we are in favor of that," said Parsons. "After all, it's our blood that's being shed. Also, we have no desire to humiliate the Argentines."
However, the British ambassador later told the council that his government's objective is now to permit the islanders to make up their own minds without constraint on the future government of the Falklands.
Britain rejected the secretary general's request that its troops slow their advance on Stanley, the island's capital, to provide more time for talks. "I see no possibility that we could halt our troops now," Parsons said.
Argentine representive Enrique Ros told the council that his government had proposed to the secretary general a cease-fire to begin with the arrival of U.N. truce observers, which would be followed by mutual withdrawal by stages. The plan, he said, would establish "zones of separation" on sea and on land.
He said Britain had demanded a restoration of the colonial administration and a U.S. military presence to oversee the cease-fire.
Parsons would not confirm this British demand, but he said "security arrangements" to maintain the cease-fire were designed to insure the islanders freedom from fear of a new invasion. He said Britain sought no permanent military base there.