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Falklands: 'Colonial' Britain lambasted by Argentina's Kirchner

By Alex Stevenson

Argentina has stepped up its war of words against Britain over the future of the Falklands, with an open letter from its president attacking the UK's continued sovereignty of the Islands.

Buenos Aires took the propaganda war over the archipelago's future to the pages of national newspapers by taking out adverts marking the 180th anniversary of the British arrival in the Falkland Islands.

Continuing a diplomatic offensive begun in the lead-up to last year's 30th anniversary of the Falklands War, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner accused the British of having carried out a "population implantation process similar to that applied to other territories under colonial rule".

Many readers of the letter will not miss her reference to Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories, where Israeli settlers continue to defy international opinion.

"Since then, Britain, the colonial power, has refused to return the territories to the Argentine Republic, thus preventing it from restoring its territorial integrity," Kirchner complained.

"The Question of the Malvinas Islands is also a cause embraced by Latin America and by a vast majority of peoples and governments around the world that reject colonialism."

The letter was copied to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. It met with a frosty reception from the Foreign Office, which is granting Falkland Islanders a referendum to decide their future later this year.

"They remain free to choose their own futures, both politically and economically, and have a right to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Charter," a spokesperson said.

"This is a fundamental human right for all peoples."

David Cameron was confronted by Kirchner on the fringes of a G20 summit last year, in what was viewed as an excellent photo call for the Argentinean president.

He dismissed her country's attempts to "misrepresent the history of your islands" in a Christmas message to Falkland Islanders two weeks ago.

"There are three parties to this debate, not just two as Argentina likes to pretend," the Foreign Office spokesperson added.

"The Islanders can't just be written out of history. As such, there can be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until such time as the islanders so wish."

Independent, international observers will be invited to verify the outcome of the referendum on the future status of the Islands.

Few doubt its final result, however. The chairman of the Falklands' legislative assembly, Gavin Short, has said there is "no doubt" the Islanders will vote to remain British.