Britain rebuffs new Argentina appeal over Falklands

18th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain rebuffed Tuesday a new appeal by Argentina to resume talks with London over the long-disputed Falklands Islands in the south Atlantic.

President Cristina Kirchner used an EU-Latin America summit in Madrid to call on Britain -- with which Argentina went to war in 1982 -- to reopen talks on the sovereignty of the "Malvinas", the Spanish name for the islands.

But Jeremy Browne, minister for Latin America in Britain's new coalition government, reiterated the same stance as the previous government of former prime minister Gordon Brown.

"We have no doubt about our sovereignty over the Falkland Islands," Browne said, noting that the European Union's Lisbon Treaty recognises the Falklands as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.

"The principle of self determination as set out in the UN charter applies. There cannot be negotiation on sovereignty unless and until the Falkland Islanders so wish," he added, in a statement released by the Foreign Office.

Argentina and Britain fought a brief war in 1982 over the Falklands, a remote archipelago lying some 450 kilometres (280 miles) off Argentina's coast which are known in the Spanish-speaking world as Las Malvinas.

Britain regained control of the islands but they remain a bone of contention, and Argentina was outraged when oil exploration began there in late February.

Tensions rose further on May 6 when British firm Rockhopper announced a first discovery of crude oil in a well off the islands.

The British minister, speaking after Kirchner's latest appeal in Madrid, said: "While we disagree with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, we have a close and productive relationship on a range of other issues."

These included "economic issues in the G20 and on climate change, sustainable development and counter-proliferation," he added.

© 2010 AFP

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