'No weakening' in Britain's resolve on Falklands

 

Britain's determination to defend the Falkland Islands was today enshrined in a Government White Paper which declared there would be “no weakening” in Britain's resolve.

The paper, setting out a vision for the future of the UK's 14 overseas territories, was published days after Prime Minister David Cameron clashed with Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over the Falklands when the pair came face to face at the G20 summit in Mexico.

Mr Cameron has rejected Ms Kirchner's demand for negotiations over the sovereignty of the islands, and last week told her that she should respect the result of a referendum next year, when the Falklanders will vote on whether they wish to retain their ties with Britain.

Today's White Paper, signed by Mr Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague, pledged: "We will continue to ensure that our sovereignty over the Territories is defended against all challenges so that, for those who live in the Territories as British citizens, their right of self-determination is protected.

"In the South Atlantic, British forces will maintain a defensive military posture to defend the Falklands and other British islands.

"There will be no weakening of the Government's resolve."

Mr Hague said the paper was designed to strengthen Britain's engagement with the Territories - which also include Anguilla; Bermuda; British Antarctic Territory; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cayman Islands; the sovereign base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus; Gibraltar; Montserrat; the Pitcairn Islands; St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands; Turks and Caicos Islands; and the British Virgin Islands.

"Today's White Paper is the first review of the Overseas Territories since 1999 and it demonstrates the importance the coalition Government attaches to the Overseas Territories," Mr Hague said.

"As well as having a responsibility to ensure the security and good governance of the Territories, we want the Territories to be vibrant, flourishing communities that proudly retain aspects of their British identity.

"We appreciate the remarkable diversity of the Territories, each with their own specific attributes, opportunities and challenges.

"This White Paper is designed to meet these challenges, to set out ways we can support the Territories and strengthen our engagement with them.

"It is another major milestone in our long and shared history, and I hope it will mark a new era of engagement between Britain and the Overseas Territories."

PA

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