Tuesday, February 27th 2007 - 21:00 UTC

Argentine/UK controversy over Falklands' war commemoration

Britain hopes the Argentine government will reconsider its decision not to participate in joint commemorations of the 25th anniversary of the Falkland Islands conflict as offered by London, said a spokesperson for the British Embassy in Buenos Aires.

Argentina's Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Taiana currently in South Africa confirmed Monday that the government had rejected an invitation from Britain to participate in a joint event honouring the dead on both sides of the Falklands war. "We regret that so far we have not been able to agree on a joint commemoration. We hope the Argentine government will reconsider and we will find a way forward to commemorate all the dead from both sides", said the British embassy spokesperson. In Pretoria Mr Taiana said that "the English have displayed a commemoration process which really is a victory celebration. We, in that framework, can never accept any joint activity". Over the weekend British Ambassador in Argentina John Hughes on an official visit to the province of Mendoza revealed that the British government had invited Argentina to participate in a joint commemoration to honour the fallen on both sides of the conflict. In an interview with the newspaper Los Andes Ambassador Hughes said "there is an invitation for Argentina to participate in a joint event, only Argentina and UK, to remember the fallen from both sides", and when asked about the response he replied "we are discussing the issue. Hughes added that 2007 will not be an easy year for Argentine/UK relations, hence "we must handle affairs with great care" and admitted that differences over the Islands continue to be deep. Taiana from South Africa also confirmed that Britain continues with "its refusal to sit to negotiate the Islands sovereignty", but Argentina "persists and will persist in its claim because Malvinas is the prolongation of a colonialism situation". The Argentine press recalls that on April 2 last year, the anniversary of the beginning of the Falklands conflict, President Nestor Kirchner headed the main commemoration and called on Britain to "act in good faith" and resume sovereignty negotiations. Apparently the letter inviting Argentina to participate in joint commemorations was delivered last November to the Argentine Embassy in London. However Argentine diplomatic sources described the letter as "informal".

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