London, Mar 28 (ANI): British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned that he will not surrender the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands ahead of talks with Argentinean premier Cristina Kirchner, who was elected with a pledge to regain the islands from British occupation.
Brown will today hold his first meeting with Kirchner at a conference in Chile, The Telegraph reported.
British officials are also concerned over a looming diplomatic dispute concerning rights to potentially valuable oil supplies, which may lie under the ocean near the Falkland Islands.
However, speaking ahead of talks with the Argentineans, Brown made it clear that he would not negotiate over the islands' sovereignty.
"There is nothing to discuss from our side. The essential principle has always been that the islands should determine the issue of sovereignty for themselves. Let us be clear our first priority will always be the needs and the wishes of the islanders. They are a proud and strong community that has my total support and respect," he said.
Veterans of the Falklands War, in which more than 250 British soldiers died, welcomed the Prime Minister's stance.
Derek Cole, the chief executive of the Falklands Veterans Foundation, said: "There should not be any discussion of the sovereignty. The Falklands should stay British, that's what the veterans want and that's what the islanders want."
Brown is planning to push the Argentineans to allow flights from the Falklands to land in Argentina - or cross the country's airspace. The issue is a major concern for the islands' 3,000 residents who have to fly around the tip of Argentina to land in Chile.
There are also ongoing issues about who owns the maritime territory to the south of the Falklands. Both Britain and Argentina have staked claims to the area, which may contain valuable oil supplies.
The negotiations with Argentina will take place at today's Progressive Governance conference near Santiago in Chile. It is the first visit of a serving Prime Minister to Chile, which assisted Britain in the Falklands war. (ANI)