Wednesday 22 October 2014

MPs slam Argentina on islands poll

Published 05/02/2013 | 14:36

An Argentine official claims his country will control the Falkland Islands in the next 20 years

The Argentine foreign minister has been involved in heated exchanges with MPs after he insisted the Falkland Islanders had no right to self-determination.

Appearing at a meeting of the all-party group on Argentina at Westminster, Hector Timerman insisted he wanted to open a dialogue with Britain.

But there was anger when he made clear that Buenos Aires would not recognise the result of a referendum of the islanders next month on whether they wished to remain part of the British Overseas Territories.

Earlier, he used a newspaper interview to claim that the islands would be under Argentine control within 20 years, while denouncing the British as "fanatics".

The Falklands Islands parliament wrote to Mr Timerman warning "no amount of harassment and intimidation" would change their minds that they did not want to be ruled from Buenos Aires.

Mr Timerman, making his first visit to Britain as foreign minister, had previously rejected a meeting with Foreign Secretary William Hague after the Foreign Office insisted the islanders representatives must be present.

Appearing in a packed Commons committee room, Mr Timerman sought to assure MPs and peers that he wanted to start a dialogue with the UK "as soon as possible".

However he ran into trouble when he insisted that the dispute over the Falklands was a matter for the two governments, and that there was no place for a referendum.

"I am willing to listen to Mr Hague - anything he wants to tell me about the subjects he happens to represent," he said.

"The self-determination referendum doesn't apply to the Malvinas. It is not a colonised people, it is a colonised territory."

Press Association

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