Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Argentina: Falklands vote 'illegal'

Argentine foreign minister Hector Timerman has claimed that Britain is militarising the South Atlantic

Argentina and Britain have had another bitter clash at the United Nations over the Falkland Islands.

Argentine foreign minister Hector Timerman's calls for talks with Britain on the sovereignty of the Falklands was brushed aside by the UK, which pointing to the islanders' overwhelming vote this month to remain British.

But Mr Timerman called the referendum "illegal" and said it was "truly deplorable" that Britain had rejected 40 resolutions by the UN Decolonisation Committee calling for negotiations between the two countries on sovereignty.

Mr Timerman was flanked at a press conference by ministers representing major Latin American and Caribbean organisations, saying he wanted to demonstrate the region's unity in support of Argentina's claim to the islands and its demand for sovereignty talks.

The islands in the south Atlantic have been British territory since 1765, but Argentina accuses Britain of invading the islands, which it claims and calls the Malvinas. Britain's UN ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant said the Falkland Islanders exercised their right to self-determination under the UN Charter in a referendum this month, and 99.8% of voters said they wanted to remain a British overseas territory.

"The United Kingdom government's position will remain that there will not and cannot be any discussions on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until the islanders so wish," Sir Mark said. "Their views are now unequivocally on the record and should be respected by all."

Mr Timerman condemned Britain's "military invasion" of the Falklands but said Argentina wanted a peaceful settlement.

He claimed Britain wants the Falklands as a military base "with high offensive technology close to the Antarctic and close to the only natural waterway between the Atlantic and the Pacific", calling it "a strategic colonialist decision". Mr Timerman also accused Britain of refusing to answer "if there are nuclear submarines or not in the area of the South Atlantic, which is an area of peace where the entry of nuclear weapons is prohibited".

Sir Mark said Mr Timerman's claim that Britain was militarising the south Atlantic was "completely untrue".

After Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982, Britain increased its defence presence to deter any future aggression, but Sir Mark said it has not changed substantially in the last 30 years.

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