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Argentina's president urges talks with British over Falkland Islands

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:23 AM EDT, Fri June 15, 2012
Colourful houses made from corrugated iron give the Stanley, the capital of the islands, a Scandinavian feel. Colourful houses made from corrugated iron give the Stanley, the capital of the islands, a Scandinavian feel.
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Taste of UK 7,000 miles from home
Taste of UK 7,000 miles from home
Taste of UK 7,000 miles from home
Taste of UK 7,000 miles from home
Taste of UK 7,000 miles from home
Taste of UK 7,000 miles from home
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Argentina's president tells a U.N. panel: "We're just asking to talk" about Falkland Islands
  • She claims Britain's standing on the U.N. Security Council has hindered action
  • An island legislator claims the Falklands "were never Argentine"
  • Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982, but they stayed under British control

United Nations (CNN) -- Thirty years after hundreds died in a fight over the disputed Falkland Islands, the Argentine president on Thursday urged Britain to once again try to resolve the conflict -- this time, at the negotiating table.

"We have to leave behind us this outdated story, this outdated history, and build a new history based on dialogue," President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said at the U.N. headquarters in New York during a meeting of the world body's decolonization committee.

"We're not asking that we're told we are right, we're just asking to talk," she said. "We are not asking for anyone to say, yes, the Malvinas are Argentinas: We are asking for no more, no less, than to sit down at a table and talk."

Argentina invaded the Falklands -- known as the Malvinas in Argentina -- in 1982, prompting a war in which more than 600 Argentinian and 255 British troops died. Following the war, Britain retained control of the islands, which are off Argentina's coast in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Anniversary of Falklands War marked

About 2,500 people from "over 150 nationalities" now live and work on the islands, in addition to 1,700 stationed at the British military's Mount Pleasant Complex there, according to the islands' government website.

Argentina has persistently criticized the British presence and has renewed its claims to the islands. But some British leaders have fought back, with Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this year describing Argentina's stance as "far more like colonialism, because these people want to remain British."

Roger Edwards, a member of the Falkland Islands legislature, told the U.N. committee on Thursday that Argentina was not only trying to prevent people from exercising "our democratic rights," but they were ignoring what transpired three decades earlier.

"I accept that Argentina has changed, and I am pleased that it has," Edwards said. "However, I do not understand how the government of Argentina can absolve itself and its people from its recent past, while simultaneously seeking to punish and harm a small and peaceful Falkland Islands' people for something it incorrectly claims to have happened almost two centuries ago."

The legislator was referring to Argentina's claim that Britain forcibly wrested the islands from its control in 1833.

An account by British Foreign Secretary William Hague on the Falklands' government website claims that Britain first possessed the islands in 1765 -- decades before Argentina achieved independence from Spanish imperial rule.

Edwards insisted Thursday that 'the islands were never Argentine (and) no Argentines were ever forcibly expelled from the islands in 1833."

Yet Kirchner, in her passionate testimony Thursday, insisted that Britain does not have a rightful, historical claim to the islands. And geographically, she said, it makes no sense.

"How can it be claimed with 14,000 kilometers away, that this territory is part of British territory?" she said.

Kirchner also pointed to a host of U.N. resolutions addressing decolonization. She suggested that it was no coincidence that these measures had had no effect on London's sovereignty over the Falklands.

"In reality, what's happening here is the United Kingdom is benefiting from its privileged position as a permanent member of the (U.N.) security council," she said.

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