Falklands spark fresh Argentina-UK spat

Argentinian president calls Britain "crass colonial power" as tensions grow over disputed islands.

    Diplomatic tensions between Argentina and the UK over Falklands have increased over oil exploration  [EPA]

    Argentinian President Christina Kirchner has called Britain "a crass colonial power in decline" for refusing to hold talks over the disputed Falkland Islands.

    Her remarks on Thursday marked almost 30 years since Argentina and Britain fought a 10-week war over the South Atlantic islands.

    "In the 21st century, [Britain] continues to be a crass colonial power in decline, because colonialism is out of date as well as unjust," said Kirchner, who is expected to run for a second term in an October presidential election.

    Britain says it will only agree to sovereignty talks if the territory's residents ask it to.

    "As long as the Falkland Islands want to be sovereign British territory, they should remain sovereign British territory - full stop, end of story," British Prime Minister David Cameron said in response to a question in parliament.

    Kirchner rejected his comments as a display of "mediocrity bordering on stupidity".

    Centre-leftist Kirchner started her political career in Patagonia, where nationalist feeling about the nearby islands is especially strong.

    Earlier this week, she gave a national identity card to the son of a Falklands war veteran born in the islands, celebrating his decision to seek Argentine citizenship.

    Diplomatic tensions over the islands, which Argentines call Las Malvinas, have increased in recent years over offshore oil exploration.

    Several exploration companies are drilling in waters off the coast of the islands, but tests have yet to establish whether there is enough commercially viable oil to justify investing in infrastructure.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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