Chile denies a glacier spat has chilled ties to Argentina

Chile's flag flies near a glacier at a national park in Patagonia, where Argentina recently claimed a glacier field along the countries' joint border

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Saturday insisted he had no problem with Argentina despite its claim to extensive Patagonian glaciers along the joint but unmarked border.

The disputed glaciers lie in a mountainous area that has been waiting to be definitively marked since 1998. It is one of the last of many often-thorny border disputes between the two neighbors still awaiting final resolution.

When Argentine scientists included the glaciers in an inventory of Argentine-controlled ice, Chile's Foreign Ministry sent a note to its Argentine counterpart seeking clarification.

But Pinera, on a visit to the Patagonian city of Coyhaique, said the dispute stemmed from a difference in the measuring systems used by the two sides. "Argentina has one scale, and Chile has another," he said.

Pinera denied that "Chile has ceded any glaciers whatsoever."

He added that "we have a very good relationship with Argentina" and that the border incident "does not affect or alter Chilean sovereignty at all."

The Patagonian glaciers provide some of the area's most spectacular scenery.

The Chilean-Argentine border stretches nearly 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) -- roughly equal to the distance across the continental United States.

The armies of each country guard the border, but it is not uncommon for patrols to cross the frontier -- which is allowed by "tacit agreement" between Santiago and Buenos Aires, Pinera said.

Chile, though far smaller than Argentina, contains four-fifths of all South American glaciers.