Argentina said Britain has a duty to negotiate the future of the Falkland Islands
ARGENTINA said Britain has “a duty” to negotiate the future of the Falkland Islands ahead of a UN meeting on the disputed territory on today’s 30th anniversary of the end of war between the two countries.
President Cristina Kirchner will lead a delegation of more than 90 Argentine diplomats and officials at the UN decolonisation committee’s annual meeting on the Falklands and 15 other territories around the world.
Two of the eight members of the Falklands legislative assembly will put the case that the 3000 population want to remain under the British flag.
Britain, whose troops ended a 74-day Argentine occupation of the South Atlantic islands on June 14, 1982, has always refused talks saying the population should decide their own future. It boycotts the committee meetings.
A day after the Falklands Government announced that it will hold a referendum on the islands’ political status in 2013, the Argentine foreign ministry said in a statement that it “reiterates Britain’s duty to negotiate the Malvinas issue.” The islands are known as the Malvinas in Spanish.
Britain should stop “ignoring” the UN committee’s work, it said, reaffirming the Kirchner Government’s “commitment to start negotiations tomorrow” on sovereignty of the islands, which have been under British control since 1833.
The UN committee has debated the Falklands each year for more than four decades. The visit by Argentina’s nationalist leader has surprised many however. She will be the first head of state to address what is a relatively low-level UN committee.
Some diplomats say Ms Kirchner is taking advantage of the emotion of the 30th anniversary of the war in which 649 Argentine and 255 British soldiers died.
The Falklands remains a national cause in Argentina, which is supported by South American nations, and diplomatic tensions have been rising again in recent months.
In February, Argentina’s Foreign Minister Hector Timerman went to the UN headquarters to accuse Britain of sending nuclear weapons to the Falklands.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon appealed to both sides to avoid an “escalation” of their sovereignty battle.
The Argentine Government has also increased pressure on the islanders.
Falklands politicians accuse Argentina of trying to undermine their economy by banning charter flights through Argentine territory and legalising sanctions against oil and fishing companies dealing with the Falklands.
Falklands lawmakers Roger Edwards and Mike Summers will address the decolonisation committee today.
Traditionally, the heads of the Argentine and Falklands delegations meet at the end of the annual debate. Thursday’s events around Kirchner are still unclear.
“We have no formal arrangement to meet the president. It is normal protocol after the event for our delegation to shake hands with the leader of the Argentine delegation, but we don’t know if that will happen tomorrow,” said Summers.
He said he would be reminding the committee that “they are not there to judge a dispute between the United Kingdom and Argentina, they are there to help the people of the non self-governing territories to achieve the maximum extent of self-governing possible.”
Summers said “our constant message then to everybody and anybody who will listen is that the Falkland islanders have been in the Falklands for over 170 years, we are a people in our own right, we do have a right to self-determination and should be allowed to exercise that right at our will.
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