LONDON — Britain’s premier vowed Thursday to defend the Falklands from Argentinian “aggressive threats” as the 30th anniversary of the end of the war over the islands was marked in London and Port Stanley.
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David Cameron pledged to continue defending the islands in the South Atlantic as he paid tribute to the 255 British servicemen killed in the brief but bloody 1982 conflict.
The names of the British military dead and three Falkands’civilians who lost their lives in the war were recited at a service on the rocky islands in the South Atlantic.
Around 650 Argentine soldiers were also killed in the war which ended after Argentine forces which had seized control of the islands were defeated by British forces.
The Argentine commanders surrendered on June 14, 1982, but Argentina still claims sovereignty over the British overseas territory which it calls the Malvinas.
Cameron, who was due to speak at a reception in London later, pledged Britain’s continued support for the Falklands and said the anniversary was also a chance to look to the future.
“For the last 180 years, 10 generations have called the Falkland Islands home and have strived hard to secure a prosperous future for their children.
“And despite the aggressive threats from over the water, they are succeeding,” he said, in a reference to Argentina.
Britain’s Latin America Minister Jeremy Browne attended the Liberation Day service in Port Stanley along with veterans of the war, the islands’ governor, members of the legislative assembly and the commander of British forces there.
Speaking before the service, Browne paid tribute to British troops who served in the war, saying “their sacrifice will not be forgotten”.
“It is the reason that the people of the Falkland Islands are able to choose their own future today,” he said.
The Falklands’ government said Tuesday it would hold a referendum on the islands’ “political status” next year, but added that the residents had no wish to be ruled by Argentina.
Browne said Falkanders had a “fundamental right” to “decide their own destiny”.
The war of words between Argentina and Britain over the islands has escalated in this anniversary year.
Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner plans Thursday to lead a diplomatic attack on Britain at the UN headquarters in New York, where she will address a decolonisation committee meeting on the Falklands.
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