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Argentina's appeal on Malvinas calls for due respect and actions

China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-30 08:16

Argentine president-elect Javier Milei addresses supporters after winning Argentina's runoff presidential election, in Buenos Aires, Argentina Nov 19, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

In an interview with the media on Nov 19, the day the results showed his victory in Argentina's presidential elections, Javier Milei said "the United Kingdom should return the Malvinas Islands to Argentina, just as they returned Hong Kong to China in 1997".

This was not the first time he had made such remarks. Speaking publicly during a televised debate between the first and second rounds of presidential voting, Milei had said that Argentina's sovereignty over the islands is nonnegotiable and "the question now is not whether but how to return them".

Argentina, which lost control of the Malvinas Islands (the UK calls them Falkland Islands) to the United Kingdom in a war in 1982, is calling for negotiations with the UK for restoration of its sovereignty over the islands in accordance with the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in November 1982.

After Milei's remarks, UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps wrote on X that the UK's ownership over the islands is "nonnegotiable and undeniable". He also cited the 2013 referendum organized by the islands' authorities to demonstrate the legitimacy of the UK's position. However, Argentina and most Latin American countries did not recognize the referendum, arguing that it was invalid given that the UK had unilaterally changed the demographic structure of the islands.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has repeatedly claimed that the ownership of the islands was decided a long time ago and was nonnegotiable. The UK has also stepped up its military presence on the islands, deploying 1,500 troops, four Typhoon fighter jets, an A400 transport support aircraft and an A330 MRTT tanker.

Argentina's military expenditure for 2023 is expected to be 854.55 billion pesos ($2.37 billion), which is incomparable to the UK's defense budget for 2022, which was£50.99 billion ($64.76 billion), more than 26 times what Argentina is expected to spend on its military in 2023.

Milei doesn't have any option given that he has to rely on the right-wing coalition of 12 parties, many of which are staunchly opposed to any compromise. In the UK, it was the Conservative Party that won the Falkland Islands War, so recent Cabinets there have been tough on the issue.

China firmly supports Argentina's legitimate claim over the Malvinas Islands, and has always stood for the settlement of territorial disputes between relevant parties through peaceful negotiations in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

-Beijing News

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