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Nicholas Leonard: Cameron brings out sharp edge in Falklands war of words

British prime minister David Cameron was still a teenager at Eton when General Galtieri of Argentina tried to shore up his crumbling military junta by invading the Falkland Islands in the hope of a quick and easy conquest.

Now, as the 30th anniversary of the invasion in April 1982 approaches, the rhetoric from Buenos Aires is once again being cranked up. A key presidential aide, Carlos Kunkel, put it like this: "David Cameron is pursuing a policy of piracy and aggression because at home the economy is collapsing, there are riots in London, and Scotland and Wales want to escape the English empire.

"The islanders are a transplanted people who live in an occupied British enclave. You cannot talk about self-determination in those circumstances."

In 1982, the invasion came as a massive shock to the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher and her decision to recapture the islands by sending a task force was an equally great shock to many of her allies. The Irish government, headed by the late Charles Haughey, described Britain as "the aggressor".

This time around, Mr Cameron is actively trading insults with Argentina. He told MPs last week: "What the Argentinians have said recently is far more like colonialism, as these people want to remain British and the Argentinians want them to do something else."

Britain and Argentina have been quarrelling over the islands for nearly two centuries but the stakes have got higher in the past year with the recent discovery of what looks like being the first commercially viable oil field to be found in the area.

Argentina has branded the decision to send Prince William, or 'Flight Lieutenant William Wales', to the islands as a helicopter search-and-rescue pilot with the RAF as a deliberately provocative act.

His younger brother, Harry, is also involved because the foreign secretary, William Hague, has asked him to go to Brazil in March, ostensibly to promote culture and trade but also, off the record, to try to disrupt the efforts by Argentina to gain support from Latin America for its Falklands policy.

Irish Independent