UK disappointed as Argentina withdraws from Falklands pact

Argentina has demanded new demanded new talks with Britain over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON - The UK government on Thursday insisted the Falkland Islands remained British as Argentina walked away from a cooperation pact and demanded new talks over their sovereignty.

Known as the Malvinas in Spanish, the UK-ruled islands were the subject of a short but brutal war after Argentina invaded in 1982. Britain drove out the invading force after dispatching a naval armada.

In 2016, the two sides agreed to disagree about sovereignty, but to cooperate on issues such as energy, shipping and fishing, and on identifying the remains of unknown Argentine soldiers killed in battle.

But at Group of 20 talks in New Delhi, Argentinian Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero informed UK counterpart James Cleverly that his government was abandoning the pact.

In a series of tweets, he renewed Argentina’s longstanding demands instead for negotiations about sovereignty of the islands at the UN in New York.

“The Falkland Islands are British,” Mr Cleverly retorted on Twitter over Mr Cafiero’s thread.

“Islanders have the right to decide their own future – they have chosen to remain a self-governing UK Overseas Territory,” he added.

The decision was announced just as Britain’s minister for the Americas, Mr David Rutley, was visiting Buenos Aires for what he called “productive” meetings.

“Argentina has chosen to step away from an agreement that has brought comfort to the families of those who died in the 1982 conflict,” Mr Rutley tweeted, calling the decision “disappointing”.

“Argentina, the UK and the Falklands all benefited from this agreement,” he said.

Both countries last year marked the 40th anniversary of the conflict, which claimed the lives of 649 Argentinian soldiers, 255 British servicemen, and three women who lived on the island. AFP

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