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Argentina's foreign minister Hector Timerman says 'no such thing as Falkland Islander'

Argentina's foreign minister says there's no such thing as a Falkland Islander, and people living on the disputed islands off the Argentine coast are just British citizens living on disputed land.

Hector Timerman Enlarge
Argentinian Foreign Minister Hector Timerman addresses a press conference in central London, on February 6, 2013. Argentina expects to have control of the British-held Falkland Islands within 20 years, the country's foreign minister said in comments published on Tuesday. (LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Argentina's foreign minister says there's no such thing as a Falkland Islander, and people living on the disputed islands off the Argentine coast are just British citizens living on disputed land.

Hector Timerman, on a visit to London, also said that Argentina would control the remote South Atlantic islands within 20 years and also thanked God for the decline of the British Empire, Reuters wrote

Britain went to war with Argentina over the islands. The 74-day conflict claimed 649 Argentine and 255 British lives.

Further stirring the row with Britain over the UK territory, 300 miles from the coast, he also vowed that Argentina would prosecute oil firms exploring off the Falklands.

More from GlobalPost: Falkland Islands in dispute over oil reserves 

The London Telegraph quoted Timerman as saying at a press conference: 

"The Falklands islanders do not exist. What exists is British citizens who live in the Islas Malvinas. The United Nations does not recognize a third party in the conflict. It says there are just two parts — the UK and Argentina."

He later added:

"I don’t think it will take another 20 years. I think that the world is going through a process of understanding more and more that this is a colonial issue, an issue of colonialism. We don’t support the occupation of foreign lands, and the Malvinas case is the occupation of a foreign land."

Argentina refers to the islands as Islas Malvinas and still claims them as its own.

Its invasion of the territory in 1982 prompted the government of Margaret Thatcher to send in British forces, who remain there today.

According to Sky News, Timerman said Argentina was not seeking the UK's "surrender" but rather a peaceful resolution of the dispute.

Calling the inhabitants of the islands "Argentinian citizens," he said:

"As Argentinian citizens, they have all the social, civil, economic, political rights as any Argentinian citizens born in continental Argentina."

Timerman has refused to meet with British Foreign Secretary William Hague to discuss the issue as long as Britain is insisting that Falklands residents be present for the discussions.

London says the islanders have a right to self-determination, but Timerman retorted:

"The United Nations is very clear. Self-determination applies to a native people, not to people that have been implanted."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/argentina/130206/argentina-falkland-island-hector-timerman-war-prince-william