UK rebuffs Argentina’s Falklands talks offer

Britain is refusing to hold negotiations with Argentina over the future sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

David Cameron said last night there would be "absolutely no negotiation" after Argentina's president pressed her country's case at a UN committee on decolonisation in New York.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner questioned Britain's claim of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands when it is 14,000km away from the British Isles, on the day when islanders marked the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the Falklands.

"We do not want more deaths, we do not want more wars," she said.

"We are not asking anyone to say yes, the Malvinas belong to Argentina. We are asking no more, no less, than to sit down and talk."

Most of the UN's member states believe the UK should agree to talks over the future of the Falklands. Ms Kirchner pointed out that the UK had proposed talks over a form of joint governance in 1974.

Falkland Islanders say their archipelago is much more prosperous now than it was then. Ongoing drilling for oil has been as important in raising attention on the Falklands as the 30th anniversary of the 1982 war.

Mike Summers, a member of the Falklands' legislative assembly, said: "As much as Argentina might like to airbrush us out of existence to satisfy its unjustified lust for our lands, such behaviour belongs to another era and should not be tolerated in the modern world."

He accused Argentina of either considering Falklanders "second class people" because they are "not Hispanic" or viewing them as insignificant "because we are too few, free to be abused by a bigger bullying neighbour."

Britain's diplomatic strategy towards Argentina's demands has been to repeatedly refer to the self-determination of the Falkland Islanders.

Earlier this week it was announced that a referendum will take place in the first half of next year, giving those living on the islands the opportunity to express their wishes.

"This has been their home for almost 180 years," Mr Cameron pledged in a speech at the annual Falkland Islands government reception in central London.

"There are children whose ancestors have lived there for generations. The roots go deep – and they will not be ripped out."

He accused Argentina of "aggression from over the water" and said Britain's approach to Latin America was one of "partnership".

"This is not some game of global monopoly – with nations passing a territory between them," the prime minister added.

"It's about the Islanders determining their own future."

Argentina's diplomatic offensive is unlikely to be matched by another attempt to retake the Islands by force, according to analysts.

Nigel Inkster of the International Institute of Strategic Studies told "The Argentines' armed forces are in arguably a worse state than they were in 1982, having suffered from decades of chronic underinvestment.

"In purely military terms the likelihood of the UK losing the islands is very remote".

Britain lost 255 soldiers in the 1982 conflict – roughly a third of fatalities among Argentina's forces, which are thought to exceed 650.