Argentina has dismissed Britain’s proposal for a referendum that would let residents of the disputed Malvinas Islands decide whether to remain under British colonial rule as “illegal.” "The referendum is illegal because the United Nations declared it to be a nation implanted since 1833 when London invaded and expelled the Argentine inhabitants," Argentinean Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said on Friday, AFP reported. The Argentinean foreign minister stated that he still planned to travel to the United Kingdom. British Foreign Secretary William Hague is due to meet Timerman during his visit to London, scheduled for 4-6 February. Britain’s Foreign Office informed and invited political representatives of the Malvinas Islands government in December 2012, so they could also take part in the meeting. Timernman also accused Britain of wanting "a military base in the Falklands with projection into Antarctica," and charged that the archipelago was "the most militarized territory in the world with one soldier for every three inhabitants." "There is no country in the world that recognizes British rights in the Malvinas," he said. Britain said on Friday it was disappointed that Argentina had rejected an invitation to meet officials from Malvinas Islands. “We are disappointed that the meeting has been cancelled,” a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
Tensions escalated between London and Buenos Aires in 2012 when both countries marked the 30th anniversary of the end of the UK and Argentina war over the islands.The two countries fought a 74-day-long war in 1982 over the islands, which ended with the British side claiming victory over the Argentineans. Located about 300 miles off Argentina’s coast and home to about 3,000 inhabitants, the islands have been declared part of the British Overseas Territories since Britain established its colonial rule on the territories in 1833. Argentina, however, has repeatedly dismissed the British territorial claim. MP/HN