Argentina on Friday dismissed the upcoming referendum in the Falklands Islands over the question of whether to keep the archipelago British, saying the vote will have no impact on the dispute.
In a move instigated by residents of the island chain, the 1,672 eligible voters are being asked specifically whether they want the Falklands to retain their status as an internally self-governing British overseas territory.
An overwhelming "yes" result is widely expected from Sunday and Monday's vote, 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' long-held sovereignty claims.
But Argentina said the vote was "a British attempt to manipulate" the status of the archipelago, in a statement from the foreign ministry Friday.
The "attempt will not alter the essence of the Falklands or put an end to the sovereignty dispute," it insisted.
The statement referred to 40 United Nations resolutions encouraging bilateral dialogue and a 1985 General Assembly vote against British proposals to incorporate the principle of self-determination into a draft resolution on the Falklands.
"So -- still -- Britain has no right whatsoever to claim to alter the legal status of these territories, even in the guise of a hypothetical 'referendum,'" the statement said.
It reiterated calls from Kirchner's government for dialogue.
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.