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Cameron warns Argentina: No negotiation over sovereignty of Falklands

Published 21/01/2016

David Cameron met Mauricio Macri at the World Economic Forum
David Cameron met Mauricio Macri at the World Economic Forum

David Cameron has warned Argentina's new president that Britain will not negotiate over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

The Prime Minister and Mauricio Macri met at the World Economic Forum where Downing Street said they agreed there was an opportunity "to embark on a new chapter of relations" after several years of diplomatic clashes under the previous regime in Buenos Aires.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a " reasonable accommodation" to be found with Buenos Aires over what it calls Las Malvinas, and suggested islanders should not have any veto over new arrangements.

Argentina's ambassador to London has hailed Mr Corbyn - who opposed the British military response to Argentina's invasion of the islands in 1982 - as "one of ours" and said he could push public opinion towards a resolution.

But Mr Cameron told MPs a change of status would "never happen as long as I am in Downing Street" unless it was backed by the local population, who in a 2013 referendum voted almost unanimously to remain British.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said Mr Cameron used the encounter in Davos to discuss potential UK help reforming the Argentine economy and ways to "significantly expand" the £1.14 billion of trade between the countries.

"They agreed that the economic reforms could lead to greater trade opportunities for UK businesses involved in infrastructure, oil and gas, mining and agritech," she said.

"On the Falklands, the Prime Minister was clear that our position remained the same and that the recent referendum was absolutely clear on the islanders' wish to remain British."

Mr Macri took power in December with a pledge to develop friendlier relations after the repeated diplomatic clashes that were a feature of the eight-year rule of Cristina Kirchner.

Asked whether Mr Corbyn's comments had any effect on the discussions, Mr Cameron's official spokeswoman said: "What matters is the Prime Minister's views about the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands hasn't changed.

"It's for the Falkland islanders to decide and that was one of the points that he made to President Macri in their discussions today."

The meeting was the first formal encounter between a British prime minister and an Argentinian president for 15 years and could pave the way for dealing with " some of the issues around fisheries and the environment in the South Atlantic, which is not a sovereignty issue but which matters to the Falkland islanders".

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