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'Our sovereign claim to the Malvinas Islands is inalienable' - Kirchner

02-04-08 - Agencies

Picture shows Argentina President Cristina KirchnerArgentina's claim to the Falkland Islands, which remain in British hands after the 1982 war between the two countries, is "inalienable," President Cristina Kirchner said Wednesday.

 "The sovereign claim to the Malvinas Islands is inalienable," she said in a speech marking the 26th anniversary of Argentina's ill-fated invasion of the islands, located 480 kilometers (300 miles) off shore.

The April 2, 1982 invasion prompted then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher to deploy naval forces to retake the Falklands, known as the Malvinas in Spanish.

The short, bloody conflict led to Argentina's surrender on June 14, 1982 after the death of 649 Argentines and 255 Britons.

Historians saw the invasion as an attempt by Argentina's ruling military junta, which was then in power, to divert attention away from domestic problems.

In her speech Kirchner called for Argentina to strengthen its representation in international bodies to denounce "this shameful colonial enclave in the 21st century."

And Vice President Julio Cobos said in the southern city of Rio Grande that "we must recover this territory that is ours, that belongs to us."

The comments came as Kirchner faces her own woes, battling against farmers who have barricaded roads in a protest against a stiff tax hike on soybean exports.

The conflict has created shortages of meat and other staples in Buenos Aires and elsewhere, and tested the social fabric, with pro- and anti-government supporters holding dueling rallies.

Foreign Minister Jorge Taina said, meanwhile, that Argentina was awaiting authorization from Britain to allow families of Argentine military personnel killed in the war to fly to the islands for the inauguration of a memorial.

London is insisting the travel be carried out by ship, but Buenos Aires has pointed out that many of the relatives are elderly and would find a long return sea voyage too tough.

See also:
Drilling for oil to start in Falkland Islands
The Falklands War
Argentina fury at UK bid for Falkland seas

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