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Downing Street Rejects Argentina’s Request for Falklands Sovereignty Talks

The newly-elected Argentinian president Javier Milei has been suggesting that Argentina should get the Falkland Islands back through ‘diplomatic channels.’

UK ministers have said they won’t revisit the issue of the Falkland Islands and consider it “non-negotiable,” following calls from Argentina’s new president for talks over the sovereignty rights to the archipelago.

The newly-elected Javier Milei has been suggesting that Argentina should get the Falklands back through “diplomatic channels,” having lost the war over the islands more than 40 years ago.

Argentina has been continuously claiming the British-run islands in the South Atlantic, over which the two countries fought a war in 1982.

The Malvinas—the Argentine name for the Falkland Islands—belong to Argentina, said Mr. Milei during a TV election debate. He said Buenos Aires will make “every effort to recover the islands.”

The conflict over sovereignty rights to the archipelago is ongoing, following a 2013 referendum, where the islanders voted to retain their political status as an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.

The spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday that Downing Street had no plans to revisit the issue.

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The prime minister’s spokesperson rejected the scenario where the UK would hand over the islands to Argentina, similarly to how Hong Kong was given back over to Chinese rule in 1997.

“The UK has no doubt about the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, and indeed South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The UK Government will continue to proactively defend the Falkland islanders’ right to self-determination,” said the spokesperson.

The Downing Street official said the control over the archipelago was an “issue that was settled decisively some time ago”.

The UK Defence Minister echoed Downing Street’s statement by sharing his own on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The Falkland Islands are British. That is non-negotiable and undeniable. 99.8 percent of islanders voted to remain British and we will always defend their right to self-determination and the UK’s sovereignty with HMS Forth now back to protect the islands,” Grant Shapps wrote on Monday.

The Royal Navy ship HMS Forth will take over the patrolling of the Falklands from another vessel HMS Medway, according to an announcement made on Monday.

The Royal Navy added that it wants to reassure and support the island community in such areas as fishery protection and general maritime security in the area.

Following the 1982 war, Britain established a garrison on the Falkland Islands, consisting of naval, land and air elements.

Last year, Mr. Sunak confirmed the UK’s commitment to the islands’ right to self-determination. His remarks came ahead of the 190th anniversary of the reassertion of British sovereignty over the islands in 1833.

International Views

The UK Foreign Office dealt a blow in the summer, following the recognition of the Argentine name for the islands by the European Union.

A declaration by the EU-CELAC summit in July referred to the Falklands as “Islas Malvinas.” Argentina’s Foreign ministry hailed the move as a “triumph of diplomacy,” but the UK ministers maintained that the Falklands issue is non-negotiable.

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union in 2020, the EU declined to allow the Falklands to be part of the UK-EU trade agreement. As a result, the territory faces tariffs on its exports to the EU.

Among European nations, Spanish people are largely in support of the Argentinian bid, with 52 percent saying that Falklands should be Argentinian and 14 percent saying they should be British.
In response to a new YouGov EuroTrack survey, 27 percent in France supported Argentine, while 23 percent backed the UK. Italians and Germans also favoured the Argentinian, as opposed to the UK, sovereignty of the islands.

In Denmark and Sweden, the support was stronger for the British rule. The United States also supported the Brits, while the majority of respondents in the UK—57 percent—said the Falklands belonged to Britain.

One in six UK respondents (16 percent) said that the islands should belong to Argentina, and 27 percent were unsure.

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