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WORLD | 19-02-2024 13:29

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron in Malvinas for two-day visit

British Foreign Minister David Cameron landed at Mount Pleasant air base on Monday as part of a two-day visit to the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron visited the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands on Monday, the first visit in three decades by Britain's top diplomat to the far-flung UK territory claimed by Argentina.

Speaking before his departure to the Press Association news agency, Cameron said he was visiting the South Atlantic archipelago, the centre of a Britain-Argentina war in 1982, to make clear they are "a valued part of the British family."

According to the PA, a plane carrying the British Foreign Minister landed at Mount Pleasant air base on Monday.

Argentina's new president, Javier Milei – who met Cameron last month on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland – said recently he hopes to recover the islands diplomatically.

Ahead of the visit, Cameron dismissed that stance, saying sovereignty is non-negotiable while its residents wish to remain British.

"The Falkland Islands are a valued part of the British family," he told Press Association, which went with him to the archipelago 12,875 kilometres (8,000 miles) from Britain. "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."

Cameron, a former UK prime minister, will also travel to  Paraguay, to a G20 meeting in Brazil and to the UN headquarters in New York on his overseas visit.

The Foreign Office announced the trip on Sunday and said that Cameron would "reiterate the UK's commitment to uphold the right of the islanders to self-determination" during his visit to the islands.

Cameron stated that he will visit some of the battle sites of the 1982 war between Argentina and the United Kingdom.

In a statement to the press, the Falkland Islands Government announced that Cameron will meet with members of the Legislative Assembly and other officials.

Cameron's visit is the first by a member of the British government since 2016, when then-defence secretary Michael Fallon travelled to the South Atlantic archipelago.

The territory, located 400 kilometres off Argentina’s coast and almost 13,000 kilometres from the UK, was the subject of a brief 74-day war in 1982 that left 649 Argentines, 255 British dead and three islanders.

Argentina claims it inherited the windswept islands, which have been occupied by Britain since 1833, from Spain when it gained independence in 1816. 

Britain says it has historically ruled them and that the islanders should have the right to self-determination.

In 2013, in a referendum in the territory of just 2,000 inhabitants, 99.8 percent of voters voted to remain under British sovereignty.

 

–TIMES/AFP

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