Veterans back PM in latest Falkland Islands row with Argentina

CONFLICT Soldiers during the 1982 conflict
CONFLICT Soldiers during the 1982 conflict
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FALKLANDS veterans have backed David Cameron after the Prime Minister started a fresh war of words with Argentina over the territory.

As tensions mount ahead of the 30th anniversary of the conflict later this year, Mr Cameron raised the stakes by accusing the Argentine government of ‘colonialism’ over its claim to the islands.

Buenos Aires hit back, calling the comment ‘absolutely offensive’.

But war veterans who fought to reclaim the Falklands in 1982 say the UK government is right to adopt a tough stance.

Joe Erskine, of the South Atlantic Medals Association, said: ‘The association totally agrees with the comments David Cameron made.

‘There should be no negotiations on the future of the Falklands as long as the people who live there want to remain British, which they do.’

Ex-sailor Chris Purcell, 52, of Fratton, who was aboard HMS Sheffield when she was hit by an Argentine missile on May 4 1982, killing 20 men, recently visited the Falklands for the first time in 30 years.

He said: ‘Speaking to the people out there, they all want to remain British.

‘Our government should have the courage to stand up to Argentina and say it’s going to remain British.

‘I met an awful lot of people out there and it was quite humbling to have people come up to me and shake my hand and say thanks for what we did.

‘Listening to their experiences, they went through absolute hell.

‘I was struck at how British the place is. All the locals think of themselves as British. We can’t let Argentina take that away from them.’

Admiral Sir John ‘Sandy’ Woodward, who led the naval task force which sailed from Portsmouth to reclaim the islands after Argentina invaded in 1982, said: ‘I naturally have very strong opinions about it – almost 300 people were killed in the war 30 years ago.

‘The Falklanders do not want to be part of Argentina and that’s final.’

The Argentine government and media has increased its anti-British rhetoric ahead of the 30th anniversary of the conflict, which has led to a pact to ban on Falklands-flagged vessels entering ports in some South American countries.

Meanwhile, Britain continues to dig for oil in the territory, which is 300 miles south of Argentina.

Adml Woodward said: ‘I’m no great fan of Mr Cameron after the cuts he’s made to the navy but he’s doing the right thing for a change. Argentina is acting like a colonial power. It’s trying to impose itself on people who do not want them. It’s for obvious reasons – it’s all about oil.’

Tensions are high after David Cameron made ‘colonialism’ jibe

ANGLO-Argentine relations are deteriorating in the run-up to the 30th anniversary of the Falklands conflict.

The Argentinian government has reasserted its historical claim to the islands, which again has been rejected by the UK.

Buenos Aires claims the territory is rightfully theirs but London says the Falklanders will remain under British rule as long as they choose to be British.

A total of 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British forces and three Falkland Islanders died during the 1982 conflict.

Argentina continues to assert that the Falkland Islands, which they call Las Malvinas, have been Argentinian territory since the 19th century.

This is despite Captain John Byron claiming the previously unpopulated territory in the name of George III in 1765.

The military dictatorship that ruled Argentina in 1982 characterised its invasion as a reoccupation. However, the UK government saw it as an invasion of a British territory and hit back.

On April 5, warships left Portsmouth to reclaim the land – an aim achieved 74 days later when Argentina surrendered on June 14.