Falkland Islanders want to be ‘left in peace’

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Falkland islanders will demand to be “left in peace” by the Argentine government in a face-to-face meeting in London.

Representatives of the islands’ government are flying to London this weekend to join Foreign Secretary William Hague for discussions with the Argentine foreign minister Hector Timerman.

In a statement, the legislative assembly of the Falkland Islands stressed that the representatives, Dick Sawle and Jan Cheek, would not be “negotiating any deal”.

“Rather we are anticipating a full and frank exchange of views,” the assembly said.

“Indeed we look forward to giving Mr Timerman some very direct messages on the unacceptability of Argentina’s actions against the Falkland Islands in recent years.

“We demand that our rights be respected, and that we be left in peace to choose our own future and to develop our country for our children and generations to come. It is only right that he should hear this directly from us, as well as from Mr Hague.”

Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has strongly asserted her country’s demands for the Falklands to come under its sovereignty despite the islanders’ opposition.

Earlier this month, she had an advert published in British newspapers claiming that Argentina had been stripped of the islands in “a blatant exercise of 19th century colonialism”.

Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly insisted the residents of the Falklands must decide their own future and a referendum on the islands’ political status is to be held in March.

In its statement yesterday, the Falklands assembly cited Britain’s opposition to “any negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until the Falkland Islanders so wish”.

It said: “The Falkland Islands legislative assembly believes that the result of the referendum will demonstrate definitively that we do not. Should the issue of sovereignty be raised at the meeting, it will not be discussed.”