Argentina Restates Falklands Claim in Open Letter to Cameron

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Argentine President Cristina Kirchner published an open letter in the British press on Thursday calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to return the disputed Falkland Islands.

In the letter, published as an advert in several national newspapers, Kirchner said the South Atlantic islands were "forcibly stripped" from Argentina 180 years ago today "in a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism".

"Since then, Britain, the colonial power, has refused to return the territories to the Argentine Republic, thus preventing it from restoring its territorial integrity," she wrote.

Kirchner said the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution in 1965 which considered the islands as a case of colonialism and invited Britain and Argentina to hold talks on their disputed claims.

"In the name of the Argentine people, I reiterate our invitation for us to abide by the resolutions of the United Nations," she wrote, copying in U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The demand comes at the start of a year when the Falkland Islanders are due to hold a referendum on the archipelago's political status in a bid to bring the bitter territorial dispute to an end.

Tensions between Britain and Argentina rose last year on the 30th anniversary of their short but bloody war for control, which left 255 British soldiers and 649 Argentine troops dead.

Cameron has refused to discuss the issue of sovereignty of the islands, known as Las Malvinas in Spanish, and the two leaders publicly clashed over the issue at the G20 summit last June in Mexico.

In a Christmas message to the Falklands, the British prime minister accused Argentina of denying the 3,000 residents the right to choose how they are governed, and of undermining their economy.

In her letter, Kirchner accuses Britain of expelling the Argentines on the islands when it took control and beginning a "population implantation process similar to that applied to other territories under colonial rule".

She adds that the Falkland issue is "a cause embraced by Latin America and by a vast majority of peoples and governments around the world that reject colonialism".

In response, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said that the Falkland Islanders "are British and have chosen to be so".

"They remain free to choose their own futures, both politically and economically, and have a right to self-determination as enshrined in the U.N. Charter," she said.

She added: "There can be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until such time as the islanders so wish.

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