Argentina has called on the United Kingdom to launch new talks over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, a disputed archipelago in the South Atlantic.
On Thursday, the Argentinian foreign ministry announced the government’s plans to revisit its claim over the islands, known as the Islas Malvinas in Spanish.
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Foreign minister Santiago Cafiero has “formulated a proposal to restart negotiations for sovereignty over the Falklands Question”, the ministry said in a statement following a meeting with UK officials.
The decision effectively ends the 2016 Foradori-Duncan pact, a non-binding statement to agree to disagree on the sovereignty of the islands, in favour of improving relations on trade and security.
Argentina’s announcement was met with strong criticism in the UK, which also claims authority over the Falkland Islands. The two sides had been engaged in talks in New Delhi, India, this week at the Group of 20 (G20) summit, which concluded on Thursday.
After meeting with Cafiero, UK foreign secretary James Cleverly took to Twitter to blast Argentina’s plan to revisit talks over the Falkland Islands.
“The Falkland Islands are British,” he wrote on Thursday. “Islanders have the right to decide their own future — they have chosen to remain a self-governing UK Overseas Territory.”
His views were echoed by David Rutley, the UK’s minister for the Americas and the Caribbean, who called the announcement “a disappointing decision” after his recent visit to Buenos Aires.
“Argentina has chosen to step away from an agreement that has brought comfort to the families of those who died in the 1982 conflict,” he wrote on Twitter. “Argentina, the UK and the Falklands all benefited from this agreement.”
The Foradori-Duncan pact included an agreement to identify the remains of unknown Argentinian soldiers who died during the 1982 Falkland War.
That conflict saw long-simmering tensions between the UK and Argentina come to a head, as the South American country launched a military invasion to assert its control over the cluster of islands.
The UK sent its navy to respond. The conflict, which lasted 10 weeks, resulted in the deaths of 649 Argentinian military members, 255 British soldiers and three civilian women.
The archipelago, which sits about 600 kilometres (373 miles) off the coast of Argentina, is home to an estimated 3,200 people from 60 countries, according to its government. Currently, the UK identifies the islands as a self-governing overseas territory.
In 2013, a referendum was held on the island to gauge whether residents wished to retain their status as a British territory. An estimated 99.8 percent of participants voted yes.
In Thursday’s announcement, Argentina called for the question of the islands’ sovereignty to be resolved before the United Nations.