LONDON: Foreign Secretary David Cameron visited the Falkland Islands on Monday, prompting claims of ‘provocation’ from an Argentine regional official on the first such trip in three decades to the far-flung UK territory claimed by the South American nation.

Cameron said he was visiting the South Atlantic archipelago at the centre of a 1982 war between the two nations to make clear the territory was “a valued part of the British family.” Britain’s Press Association reported Cameron as saying Britain would “help protect and defend” the islands for as long as they want to be “part of the UK family.” “And I hope that’s for a very, very long time, possibly forever,” he added.

Gustavo Melella, governor of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and Southern Atlantic Islands province, said on X that Cameron’s presence “constitutes a new British provocation that seeks to undermine our legitimate sovereign rights over our territories and to sustain colonialism in the 21st century.”

The Falklands, known as Islas Malvinas in Argentina, are about 480 kilometres from mainland Argentina, which claims to have inherited them from Spain when it gained independence.

Britain insists it has historically ruled the Falklands and notes that islanders voted 99.8 per cent in favour of remaining British in a 2013 referendum. A conflict over the territory in 1982 claimed the lives of 255 British and 649 Argentine soldiers and three islanders.

Argentina’s new president Javier Milei — who met Cameron last month in Davos — has said he hopes to recover the islands diplomatically. But ahead of

his visit, Cameron insisted sovereignty was non-negotiable while the Falklands residents wish to remain British.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2024

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