British Prime Minister David Cameron called Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland Islands three decades ago a “profound wrong” aimed at depriving the islanders of their freedom.
Cameron also reaffirmed Britain’s commitment to defending the islanders’ right to choose their fate in a statement issued to mark the invasion’s 30th anniversary.
“Thirty years ago today the people of the Falkland Islands suffered an act of aggression that sought to rob them of their freedom and their way of life,” Cameron said.
He said the anniversary should be used to commemorate and reflect on those killed in the resulting 74-day conflict,which claimed the lives of 649 Argentine and 255 British troops and also killed three Falkland locals.
Argentine dictator General Leopoldo Galtieri ordered the dawn invasion on April 2,1982. British prime minister Margaret Thatcher responded by sending a task force to reclaim the islands.
Britons were “rightly proud of the role Britain played in righting a profound wrong”,Cameron said,paying tribute to the “prosperous and secure” society built there since the war.
Britain and Argentina have been engaged in a renewed war of words over the South Atlantic archipelago in recent months.
The island’s oil reserves,which remain untapped until now but which analysts predict could be worth tens of billions of dollars,have been a major source of tension between the countries since their discovery in 1998.
Argentina has also accused Britain of militarising the seas around the islands,and was infuriated when London allowed oil exploration to start in the surrounding waters in 2010.
Britain remains “staunchly committed to upholding the right of the Falkland Islanders,and of the Falkland Islanders alone,to determine their own future,” Cameron insisted on Monday.
“That was the fundamental principle that was at stake thirty years ago: and that is the principle which we solemnly re-affirm today,” he added.
Buenos Aires is also taking its renewed battle over the islands to international bodies,touting its claims at the United Nations.
London however has shot back that the residents on the overseas territory,population about 3,000,want to remain part of Britain,and accuses Argentina of being “colonialist” by refusing them self-determination.