Thursday, April 18, 2024

WORLD | 21-02-2024 22:08

Foreign Minister Diano Mondino ratifies Malvinas sovereignty claim to UK's top diplomat

Argentina’s government had mostly stayed mum following British Foreign Secretary David Cameron’s trip to the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, but that changed Wednesday.

Argentina’s top diplomat Diana Mondino on Wednesday reiterated her nation’s sovereignty claim to UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron as the two met on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Rio de Janeiro.

Mondino, 65, conveyed her "discomfort" to her British counterpart over his visit this week to the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, the far-flung UK territory claimed by Argentina. 

Cameron's visit Monday was the first in three decades by Britain's top diplomat to the archipelago at the centre of a 1982 British-Argentina war.

Mondino spoke to Cameron on the sidelines of a G20 foreign ministers summit in Rio de Janeiro, the government in Buenos Aires confirmed in a statement.

She expressed "discomfort with his statements and his visit" and "reaffirmed the sovereign rights of the Argentine Republic" to the archipelago, it added.

In a post on X featuring a photograph of them both, Mondino wrote that she was "putting things in their place."

The previous day, the foreign minister had posted an acidic message on social media thanking Cameron for including Argentine territory on his regional tour.

"We value the gesture of UK Chancellor Cameron to include Argentina in his visit to the region,” she wrote in an ironic post. “We will be happy to receive him, on a future occasion, also in Buenos Aires."

The former UK prime minister’s tour includes, in addition to the islands, stops in Paraguay and Brazil.

Britain's Press Association reported Cameron as saying this week that 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.

Argentina's statement said the ministers "recognised the existence of a disagreement" on the issue.

In contrast, the British government spoke in a statement of a "positive" meeting with Mondino during which Cameron "reiterated the UK's ongoing support for the Falkland Islanders' right of self-determination."

The pair noted, however, "that this would not prevent cooperation on areas that would be mutually beneficial," it added.

After the meeting, Cameron wrote on X: "We look forward to embarking on a new era of relations between Argentina and the UK."

The former prime minister’s visit to the islands was dubbed a "provocation" by Governor Gustavo Melella of Argentina's Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and Southern Atlantic Islands Province, which includes the islands on its map.

Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof also described the visit as "an act of deep provocation to the memory of our heroes who gave their lives.”

Other provincial leaders, including Gerardo Zamora (Santiago del Estero), Alberto Weretilneck (Río Negro), Ricardo Quintela (La Rioja) and Sergio Ziliotto (La Pampa), also condemned the trip.

Presidential Spokesperson Manuel Adorni avoided an aggressive response when asked at a press conference about Cameron's trip to the islands. 

"David Cameron's visit to the Malvinas is a matter of David Cameron's agenda and in that case of the British Government," he answered.

"We have no reason to give our opinion on the agenda of other countries," concluded the official, who reaffirmed Argentina’s sovereignty claim.

The Islas Malvinas are about 480 kilometres (298 miles) from mainland Argentina, which claims to have inherited them from Spain when it gained independence.



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