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Falkland Islanders mark 30 years since end of war

UK vows British support for the islands will never waiver, while Argentina prepares to push its claim to the Falklands at a UN committee.

Falklands britain argentina 2012 4 3Enlarge
Argentinian demonstrators burn a British Union Jack flag in a protest near the British Embassy in Buenos Aires on April 2, 2012 as Britain and Argentina marked 30 years since an Argentine invasion of the Falklands Islands triggered a bloody 74-day war, amid renewed tensions between the two countries. (Daniel Garcia /AFP/Getty Images)

The Falklands Islands today marks 30 years since the end of Argentine occupation, with the UK prime minister, David Cameron, vowing that British support for the islands would never waiver, the London Telegraph reported.

Services are planned at Christ Church cathedral and Liberation Monument, in the capital Port Stanley, to remember the 255 British servicemen who died during the 74-day conflict – and to celebrate the islands' liberation.

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Speaking Thursday morning, Cameron said the anniversary was a time to express a “huge debt of gratitude” to those who showed “astonishing courage to recapture the islands," and to look forward to the future.

"For the last 180 years, 10 generations have called the Falkland Islands home and have strived hard to secure a prosperous future for their children. And despite the aggressive threats from over the water, they are succeeding," Cameron said.

Argentina lost 649 military personnel during the conflict, and despite its surrender on June 14, 1982, the country has not given up its claim of sovereignty over the islands, which it says Britain has illegally occupied since 1833.

The Argentine president, Cristina Fernandez, will use the anniversary to appear before the UN's Decolonization Committee, and reiterate Argentina's claim to the Falklands, which it calls Las Malvinas, the Associated Press reported.

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Her attendance at the committee's annual meeting, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, is the first by a head of state.

It is understood that Fernandez asked the Decolonization Committee to schedule its meeting on the 30th anniversary of the end of the Falklands war – a move that Britain's UN ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, described as “very sad,” the AP reported.

“This year the Argentinians for obviously purely domestic political reasons have hyped up the rhetoric in a massive way and are using every opportunity to try to internationalize the issue and get support from the regional organizations and make a song and dance at the UN," Lyall Grant said.

The people of the Falklands are due to vote in referendum on the islands' political status in the first half of next year, in an effort to draw a line under the territorial dispute, the Telegraph reported.

The Falklands government this week said that the residents of the islands wished to remain a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/120614/30th-anniversary-end-falklands-war