Argentina's foreign minister on Monday called on the United Nations to help free a navy sailing ship seized in Ghana over an unpaid debt.

Foreign Minister Hector Timerman sought help from the UN Security Council and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over the case of the ARA Libertad, a vessel used for training and goodwill visits that has been held in a Ghana since October 2.

"Seizing a warship that has immunity under the law of the sea is a serious risk to all military ships sailing on oceans around the world," Timerman told reporters after his meetings.

"Ghana is smashing a law that guarantees the operation of military navigation," the minister added.

But the acting Security Council president, Gert Rosenthal, Guatemala's UN ambassador, said the 15-member body could not intervene in what was a legal dispute between two countries.

"I explained to the foreign minister, and he knows that the Security Council is concerned with the maintenance of global peace and security and that this case is not exactly threatening world peace," said Rosenthal.

Timerman went on to meetings with Ban, UN General Assembly president Vuk Jeremic and other reporters, handing over documents setting out Argentina's case that the ship seizure was "completely illegal".

According to a statement, Ban "expressed the hope that both governments will find a way to address the matter on a bilateral basis, in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which both Argentina and Ghana are parties."

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner remained defiant late Monday.

"As long as I am president, they can rob us of our frigate but no vulture fund can take our liberty, our sovereignty, our dignity," she said.

The three-masted tall ship, which has a crew of 300, has been held near Accra since a Ghanaian court backed an order sought by a Cayman Islands investment fund, which says it is owed more than $370 million by the Argentine government.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]