- 18 января 2012, 22:34
David Cameron accuses Argentina of 'colonialist attitude' over islands as he reiterates support for self-rule
Britain intensified its rhetoric against Argentina on Wednesday, as David Cameron accused Buenos Aires of adopting a colonial attitude towards the Falkland Islands. Amid growing tension ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Argentinian invasion in April, the prime minister said he called a meeting of Britain's National Security Council on Tuesday mainly to discuss the islands.
The meeting was held after Argentina persuaded members of the South American Mercosur trading bloc – Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – to close their ports to ships flying the Falklands Islands flag.
William Hague, the foreign secretary, attended the meeting before flying out to Brazil on a pre-arranged visit, where he is due to raise Britain's concerns.
Cameron told MPs he convened the NSC meeting on the Falklands to ensure "our defences and everything else are in order". He said: "The key point is that we support the Falkland Islanders' right to self-determination. I would argue that what the Argentinians have said recently is far more like colonialism, as these people want to remain British and the Argentinians want them to do something else."
The PM reiterated his message at a press conference with Mario Monti, the Italian prime minister. "The reason for holding a National Security Council – which also discussed other topics – is to discuss that issue, is to make sure nobody is in any doubt that Britain supports that right of self-determination, and we will go on doing so for as long as people in the Falklands want to continue in that way."
The Foreign Office is concerned about the tough language from Buenos Aires in recent months.
"There is a lot of shadow boxing," said one source who pointed out that Falkland Islands ships have no problem docking in Mercosur ports because they fly the Red Ensign.