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Argentina slams Prince William's Falklands deployment

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:35 PM EST, Tue January 31, 2012
Prince William at the controls of a Sea King helicopter during a training exercise at Holyhead Mountain on March 31, 2011.
Prince William at the controls of a Sea King helicopter during a training exercise at Holyhead Mountain on March 31, 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Prince William will arrive wearing "the uniform of the conqueror," Argentina says
  • He is scheduled to be deployed on a military mission to the islands in February
  • Politicians from both countries have been ratcheting up their rhetoric over the islands
  • British plans to deploy a naval destroyer to the region have not stymied the war of words

Buenos Aires (CNN) -- Argentina's foreign ministry slammed British officials Tuesday over Prince William's upcoming deployment in the Falkland Islands.

"Prince William is coming...as a member of the armed forces of his country," the ministry said in a statement. "The Argentinian people regret that the royal heir is coming to the soil of the homeland with the uniform of the conqueror and not with the wisdom of a statesman who works in the service of peace and dialogue between nations."

Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982, prompting a war in which more than 600 Argentinian and 255 British troops died. After the war, the United Kingdom retained control of the islands, which are off Argentina's coast in the South Atlantic.

Politicians from both countries have ratcheted up their rhetoric over the islands this month, with Prince William's scheduled February arrival in the territory looming.

The Duke of Cambridge will be one of four Royal Air Force pilots deployed to the Falkland Islands military base next month, the British Ministry of Defence has said.

News of British plans to deploy the destroyer HMS Dauntless to the region did nothing to stymie the war of words Tuesday.

"The Republic of Argentina rejects the British attempt to militarize a conflict that the United Nations already has said on numerous occasions both nations should resolve in bilateral negotiations," Argentina's foreign ministry said in its statement, titled "More Diplomacy Less Weapons."

British officials have said the ship's deployment is routine, Britain's ITN news network reported.

But Ernesto Alonso, an Argentinian veteran of the 1982 war over the islands, told ITN that the move was "a new provocation."

"We're peaceful. We want to talk. Sending this ship sends a different signal," he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has criticized Argentinian officials for their renewed claims to the island.

"We support the Falklands' right to self-determination, and what the Argentinians have been saying recently I would argue is actually far more like colonialism, because these people want to remain British, and the Argentinians want them to do something else," he told lawmakers earlier this month.

Cameron's comments about colonialism have roiled Argentinian politicians and protesters alike.

Demonstrators marching outside the British Embassy in Buenos Aires earlier this month burned British flags and urged Argentina to sever ties with London.

Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner last week slammed the British presence on the islands, which are known as the Malvinas in Argentina.

"They are preying on our natural resources, our oil, our fish," she said.

Fernandez's campaign has won over several neighboring countries.

Last month, members of the Mercosur trade bloc -- which includes Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay -- said they would stop ships bearing the Falkland Islands flag from entering their ports.

That move angered British officials.

"It is unacceptable to engage in an economic blockade of the Falklands," Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne said.

About 2,500 residents live on the islands, in addition to 1,700 people stationed at the British military's Mount Pleasant Complex there, according to the islands' government website.

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