South Africa sees an opportunity lurking in the Falklands crisis.

It is making a new bid for naval cooperation with major Western powers. Pretoria argues Britain's lack of port facilities near the Falklands underscores the West's weakness in the South Atlantic.

South Africa would like to see a Western power share its Simonstown naval facility to help protect the sea route around the cape. Behind the offer is the hope of breaking the international arms embargo against South Africa because of its racial policies.

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Such a naval agreement -- proposed by the chief of the South African Defense Force -- could put South Africa in a difficult position. It has gone out of its way in recent years to improve relations with South American governments. They could resent closer ties to Britain or one of its backers.

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