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Falklands referendum will change nothing: Argentina

BUENOS AIRES -- Sunday and Monday's referendum in the Falklands Islands over whether to keep the archipelago under British rule will not affect the legal status of the disputed islands, a senior diplomat said.

In a move instigated by residents of the island chain, the 1,672 eligible voters are being asked whether they want the Falklands to retain their status as an internally self-governing British overseas territory.

“From the international law perspective, it is utterly meaningless,” Argentine's Ambassador to Britain Alicia Castro said.

An overwhelming “yes” vote is widely expected, an outcome the islanders hope will provide a slap in the face to an increasingly bellicose Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, who has been ramping up diplomatic tension with London over Buenos Aires's long-held sovereignty claims.

“A referendum among British residents of the islands in no way changes the essence of the Malvinas (Falklands) issue,” Castro told Infobae news from London.

“And its predictable outcome neither ends the dispute nor affects Argentina's unquestionable rights.

“The referendum is irrelevant. It has no legal basis ... And the issue should be handled by the U.N. Decolonization Committee,” she argued. That panel has urged Britain to decolonize to no avail.

But Argentina says the vote is “a British attempt to manipulate” the status of the archipelago.

Britain has held the windswept South Atlantic Ocean islands since 1833, but Buenos Aires claims they are occupied Argentinian territory. The two countries fought a brief but bloody war over the islands in 1982.

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People drive their vehicles bearing British flags and stickers in favor of keeping the Falkland Islands as an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, Saturday, March 9. (AP)

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