UK says Falklands are British as Argentina seeks new talks
LONDON (AP) — Britain has reasserted its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands after Argentina pulled out of a cooperation agreement and demanded new talks over the South Atlantic territory that sparked a 1982 war between the two countries.
The pronouncement came after Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero said on Twitter that he informed British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly about his country’s decision when the pair met on the margins of the Group of 20 summit in India last week.
“The Falkland Islands are British,” Cleverly tweeted late Friday. “Islanders have the right to decide their own future — they have chosen to remain a self-governing U.K. Overseas Territory.’’
Earlier, Cafiero said he told Cleverly that Argentina had decided to pull out of a 2016 agreement in which the the two countries pledged to work together on a variety of issues. While that agreement sought to improve cooperation in the South Atlantic, both sides continued to assert their claims to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, known as Islas Malvinas in Argentina.
Cafiero also said he proposed new talks in line with a 1965 U.N. General Assembly resolution that encouraged Britain and Argentina to find a peaceful solution to the dispute over the islands.
Argentina has long claimed sovereignty over the islands, which are about 300 miles (480 kilometers) from South America and home to some 3,500 people.
Argentina argues that the islands were illegally taken from it in 1833. Britain, which says its territorial claim dates to 1765, sent a warship to the islands in 1833 to expel Argentine forces who had sought to establish sovereignty over the territory.
Argentina invaded the islands in 1982, triggering a two-month war that claimed the lives of 255 British service members, three islanders and 649 Argentine personnel. The Argentine forces were ultimately expelled and Britain reasserted its control.
Residents in 2013 voted overwhelmingly in favor of remaining an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.
David Rutley, Britain’s minister for the Americas, expressed disappointment in Argentina’s decision.
“Argentina has chosen to step away from an agreement that has brought comfort to the families of those who died in the 1982 conflict,’’ Rutley, who recently visited Buenos Aires, said on Twitter. “Argentina, the U.K. and the Falklands all benefited from this agreement.’’
Danica Kirka, The Associated Press