Argentina says Ban must 'wear down' Britain over Falklands

Argentina's foreign minister on Tuesday called on UN leader Ban Ki-Moon to "wear down" British resistance to discussing the Falkland islands.

Foreign Minister Hector Timerman slammed a referendum held in the islands this month as "illegal". Britain's UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said however it was "untenable" for Argentina to reject the overwhelming vote in favour of British rule.

Timerman and the foreign ministers of Uruguay and Cuba met the UN secretary general to back the Argentine case for sovereignty over the islands, which were at the heart of a 1982 war between Britain and Argentina.

Ban has offered his "good offices" to try to end the dispute. Britain insists however that there can be no talks on the islands, known as the Malvinas by Argentina, without the accord of the islanders.

"We must continue to insist," said Timerman. "Of course we would like the secretary general to wear down the other party and not be worn out."

The referendum this month voted 99.8% in favour of remaining British. Timerman called the vote "illegal" and said the Falklands, held by Britain since the 18th century, are "a matter of sovereignty and territorial integrity."

"Questions cannot be asked to the occupier if they are happy to continue occupying a territory which is not theirs. The question is to whom do these islands belong?"

The British ambassador responded: "It is disappointing that Mr Timerman and his colleagues spent so lttle time talking about the Falkland islanders and the wishes of the Falkland islanders."

He added: "Their views are now unequivocally on the record and should be respected by all. Argentina's dismissal of the referendum as illegal and irrelevant is untenable."

Argentina raises the Falklands case each year at the UN's decolonization committee. Britain boycotts the event though Falklands' legislators speak there each year.