* Argentina, Britain fought 1982 war over Falkland Islands
* British government wanted to include "Kelpers" in meeting
* Argentina says would only accept a bilateral format
By Hugh Bronstein
BUENOS AIRES, Jan 31 Argentina on Thursday
rejected an invitation from Britain to a meeting that would
include representatives of the government of the Falkland
Islands, further hardening the diplomatic stalemate over the
South Atlantic archipelago.
Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said in an open
letter to his British counterpart William Hague that only a
bi-lateral meeting between Argentina and Britain would be
The two countries fought a 10-week war in 1982 over the
Falklands, which are part of Britain's self-governing overseas
territories. Britain won but Argentina started pressing its
sovereignty claim anew last year after oil exploration began in
waters near the remote, wind-swept islands.
Timerman's letter came in response to an invitation to visit
the foreign office during a visit to London this week.
Representatives of the Falklands were also invited.
"I lament your letter of yesterday stating you cannot meet
without the supervision of the Malvinas settlers," Timerman's
letter said, using the Argentine term for the Falkland Islands.
"It's a shame that you reject a bilateral meeting," the
letter continues. "You need not keep trying to put together
meetings during my visit to London. Leave that job to our own
"I invite you to visit Argentina," Timerman went on, "to
hold a bilateral meeting and to show you that our country is a
true democracy, where my fellow foreign ministers can meet
freely with whom they want, without me pushing them into
meetings that do not interest them."
President Cristina Fernandez last year marked the 30th
anniversary of the Falklands war with an ongoing diplomatic
campaign to assert Argentina's sovereignty claim.
London has refused to start talks on sovereignty with Buenos
Aires unless the roughly 3,000 islanders, known as "Kelpers",
want them. The islanders show no signs of wanting to break with
Britain and are expected to affirm as much in a referendum due
to be held in March.
The dispute has not deterred British energy companies from
exploring on the islands, which are expected to start producing
their first oil in 2017.