Britain dismisses Argentina Falkands talks demand
Britain on Saturday dismissed a fresh Argentine demand for sovereignty talks over the disputed Falkland Islands, saying the issue was not up for discussion.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez on Saturday 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.