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Cameron to visit Falkland Islands amid renewed calls in Argentina for talks on their future

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron is set to visit the Falkland Islands – amid renewed calls in Argentina for talks on their future.

The visit – the first by a cabinet minister since 2016 – is being touted as a high-profile demonstration that the remote South Atlantic archipelago remains a “valued part of the British family”.

It comes after Argentina’s new president, Javier Milei, thrust his country’s long-running claim over the British overseas territory back into the spotlight by calling for the islands to be handed over to Buenos Aires.

However, Lord Cameron said their sovereignty was “not… up for discussion” while islanders wished to be British.

“The Falkland Islands are a valued part of the British family, and we are clear that as long as they want to remain part of the family, the issue of sovereignty will not be up for discussion,” he said in a statement ahead of the trip.

“The Falkland Islanders should be proud of the modern, prosperous community they have built.

“The islands are a thriving economy, where as well as farming and fishing, there is a priority given to conservation and sustainability.”

Embargoed to 0001 Friday May 20 Undated handout photo issued by the Falkland Islands Government of Stanley in the Falklands Islands, one of among eight places to win coveted city status as part of celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Issue date: Friday May 20, 2022.
Image: Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. Pic: PA

Mr Milei, a radical libertarian, swept into office in December off the back of an election campaign promising wholesale changes to Argentina’s state and economy.

He also pledged the country would gain sovereignty over the islands – known as Islas Malvinas by Argentines – and has suggested the UK should approach the issue in a similar way to the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997.

That agreement, however, followed the end of a 99-year lease.

The Falklands have been under British sovereignty since 1833, barring the three-month occupation by Argentina in 1982, which resulted in the Falklands War, in which 255 British servicemen, three islanders and 649 Argentinian personnel died.

In a 2013 referendum, 99.8% of islanders voted to retain their status as a UK overseas territory, something often cited by British politicians to dismiss Argentina’s claim.

Argentina's President Javier Milei gives a speech after his swearing-in ceremony, outside the National Congress, in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 10, 2023. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian
Image: Argentina’s President Javier Milei. Pic: Reuters

Last month, Lord Cameron met with Mr Milei at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where the debate over the islands was discussed.

Following the meeting, the Foreign Office said the pair had a “warm and cordial meeting” and on the issue of the Falklands “they would agree to disagree, and do so politely”.

On his visit, Lord Cameron will pay his respects to the British forces who served and those who lost their lives during the conflict in 1982 and thank the UK personnel based on the islands today.

Read more:
Who is Argentina’s new president?
EU backs down after calling Falklands by Argentine name

Lord Cameron will meet leaders of the Falkland Islands government during a visit to the capital Stanley and other sites around the overseas territory.

He will also visit environmental projects and see some of the penguins that depend on the vital island habitats.

He is expected to travel to the Falklands before visiting Paraguay – the first time a British foreign secretary has travelled to the South American nation – before travelling to a meeting with G20 counterparts in Brazil.

Sky News Source