Britain dismisses Argentina Falkands talks demand

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez yesterday demanded  the talks when she met British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on  the sidelines of a pre-G20 summit in the Chilean coastal resort  of Vina del Mar.
Her call came a day after Brown said publicly he would not  discuss the issue.

“The prime minister set out the British government’s  long-standing position on sovereignty in very clear terms,” a  British official accompanying Brown told reporters, asking not  to be named.

“He emphasized the importance of the principle of  self-determination and the need to respect the wish of the  Falkland Islanders and made clear our position has not  changed,” the official said.

He said this meant there could be no talks on sovereignty  over the windswept, rocky outcrop off the toe of South America  for now.

However, he said the two leaders did agree on the need for  further discussions on the issue of commercial flights between  the islands and mainland Argentina, which have been blocked for  years.

Argentina wants direct flights to the islands so that  relatives can visit the graves of the war dead.

The Falkland Islanders, who number around 2,900, want more  flights to South America for business purposes.

“They agreed there would be further discussions ahead as  necessary, while emphasizing that civil aviation matters are ultimately the decision of the Falkland Islanders themselves,”  the British official said.

“We want to have a good relationship with Argentina, while  of course both sides acknowledge we have a difference of opinion on the issue of the Falklands,” he said.

The official said the topic took up 15 minutes of the  35-minute-long bilateral meeting, and that Brown and Fernandez  also discussed the upcoming G20 summit and the need for  financing for emerging market economies.

Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana said Fernandez was  clear and firm about the islands, which he called by their  Spanish name, the Malvinas.

“The president stated with great clarity and firmness the  need for the United Kingdom to do what the United Nations has  asked and to hold talks to find a solution to a sovereignty conflict between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the  Malvinas,” he said.

Britain seized back the South Atlantic islands in a 1982  war after they were occupied by Argentine forces. Some 649  Argentines and 255 British troops died.

Argentina’s ill-fated Falklands campaign is widely seen as  a mistake by the discredited military dictatorship ruling at  the time but many Argentines see the islands as theirs.

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