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British PM Cameron rebuffs Argentina's Kirchner in island dispute

posted 3 Jan 2013, 10:44 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 3 Jan 2013, 10:45 ]

British Prime Minister David Cameron rejects Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's call for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, known as Las Malvinas in Argentina.

PRESTONLANCASHIREUNITED KINGDOM (JANUARY 3, 2013) (ITN) -   British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday (January 3) rebuffed Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's call via an open letter for the two countries to negotiate a solution to the dispute over the Falklands, known in Argentina as Las Malvinas.

Cameron said the future of the islands was up to the people who live there - notArgentina.

"My reaction is to say, quite simply, that the future of the Falkland Islands should be determined by the Falkland Islanders themselves - the people who live there," he told a reporter at a business event he was attending in Prestonnorthern England.

In an open letter published in British newspapers on Thursday, Fernandez accused Britain of breaching United Nations resolutions urging the negotiations.

Cameron stuck to London's long-established stance that the approximately 3,000 people of the Falkland Islands had chosen to be British.

"Whenever they have been asked their opinion they have said they want to maintain their current status with the United Kingdom," Cameron said.

The islanders are due to vote this year in a referendum on whether they want to stay part of Britain's self-governing overseas territories. They are expected to vote overwhelmingly in favour of the status quo.

"I hope the president of Argentina will listen to that referendum and recognise that it is for the Falkland Islanders to choose their future and as long as they choose to stay with theUnited Kingdom they have my 100 percent backing," Cameron said.

Britain and Argentina fought a 10-week war in 1982 over the remote South Atlantic islands, which are part of Britain's self-governing overseas territories.

Fernandez has marked the 30th anniversary of the conflict with a sustained diplomatic campaign to assert Argentina's sovereignty claim.

The Falklands cause is a popular rallying cry in Argentina but the stakes have also been raised by oil exploration in the waters around the islands.