David Cameron has warned that he is ready to fight another war with Argentina to prevent that country seizing the Falkland Islands.
He told BBC 1's Andrew Marr Show: "I get regular reports on this entire issue because I want to know that our defences are strong, our resolve is extremely strong."
Asked if Britain would fight to keep the islands, he replied: "Of course we would and we have strong defences in place on the Falkland islands, that is absolutely key, that we have fast jets stationed there, we have troops stationed on the Falklands."
He added that the UK’s defence budget is still one of the five largest in the world, despite recent cuts.
The war of words over the islands known to the Argentines as Los Malvinas has heated up since the re-election of the combative Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as Argentina’s President.
Last week, she published an open letter to David Cameron alleging that Argentine was “forcibly stripped” of the islands by the Royal Navy. The letter was timed to coincide with the 180th anniversary of what Argentina sees as the British occupation. An Argentinian attempt to take the islands in by force in 1982 was repelled by British forces at a cost of over 900 lives.
The islanders plan to hold a referendum in March, which is expected to produce an overwhelming vote in favour of retaining the present status as a British overseas territory.