Argentina presses case on Falklands
Argentina's president pressed her country's claim to the Falkland Islands, appearing yesterday before a little-known UN committee on the 30th anniversary of Britain's ousting of an Argentine invasion force.
President Cristina Fernandez's attendance at the annual meeting of the world body's decolonisation committee was the first by a head of state. Dozens of supporters joined her.
By contrast, the Falkland Islands was represented by two members of the Legislative Assembly, accompanied by six young islanders.
Argentina claims Britain has illegally occupied the islands it calls the Islas Malvinas since 1833.
Britain disputes Argentina's claim to the islands and says Argentina ignores the wishes of the island's 3000 residents, who have expressed a desire to remain British. Argentina maintains that the residents do not have the unilateral right to decide what they want the islands to be.
The clash over the islands flared into a brief war in 1982, when Argentina's then-military dictatorship invaded the archipelago in the south Atlantic, more than 460km off South America's coast.
Fernandez asked the 24-member decolonisation committee to schedule the annual discussion of the Falkland Islands' status yesterday, the anniversary of Britain's victory that ended the 74-day conflict, a move apparently aimed at highlighting the dispute.
Britain's UN Ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, recalled that on the 20th anniversary of the conflict there were a lot of joint commemorative events honouring the 649 Argentines, 255 British soldiers, and three islanders who died in the war and "it was done in a very statesman-like way".
It's "very sad", Lyall Grant said, that "this year the Argentinians for obviously purely domestic political reasons have hyped up the rhetoric in a massive way and are using every opportunity to try to internationalise the issue and get support from the regional organisations and make a song and dance at the UN."