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Cameron won’t hand over Falklands

LONDON — On Thursday, Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, rebuffed a call by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to hand over the Falkland Islands, 31 years after the two countries went to war over the South Atlantic archipelago.

‘‘The future of the Falkland Islands should be determined by the Falkland Islanders themselves,’’ Cameron said. ‘‘They’re holding a referendum this year, and I hope the president of Argentina will listen to that referendum and recognize it is for the Falkland Islanders to choose their future, and as long as they choose to stay with the United Kingdom they have my 100 percent backing.’’

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In an open letter to Cameron published Thursday in British and US newspapers, Fernandez said he should abide by a 1960 UN resolution urging member states to ‘‘end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations.’’ Britain should begin negotiations over the sovereignty of the islands, which were ‘‘forcibly stripped’’ from Argentina on Jan. 3, 1833, she said.

The two countries went to war in 1982 after Argentine forces invaded the Falklands, which Argentina calls the Malvinas. Tensions heightened last year, with Argentina protesting Britain’s deployment of a warship to the region.

‘‘The question of the Malvinas is also a cause embraced by Latin America and by a vast majority of peoples and governments around the world that reject colonialism,’’ Fernandez wrote. The Falklands are situated 8,700 miles from London, she wrote.

Her letter follows Britain’s decision last month to name a territory in the Antarctic after Queen Elizabeth II, as part of celebrations over her 60 years on the throne. Argentina, which claims the land, said the decision was a provocative act.

‘‘The people of the Falklands are British and have chosen to be so,’’ the British Foreign Office said. ‘‘There are three parties to this debate, not just two as Argentina likes to pretend.’’

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