‘Falklands still British and Thatcher was brilliant’ Argentina’s President Milei says

‘Falklands still British and Thatcher was brilliant’ Argentina’s President Milei says

Argentina’s president Javier Milei has accepted that the Falkland Islands remain in the hands of the British – for now – and has spoken of his admiration for the “brilliant” Margaret Thatcher.

The right-wing populist, described as South America’s Donald Trump, this week went against previous leaders who historically insisted the Malvinas remained Argentine. But Mr Milei vowed to get the islands back through a “framework of peace”.

Mrs Thatcher was prime minister when Argentina invaded the islands in 1982, triggering a two-month war that killed 649 Argentine troops, 255 British servicemen and three islanders.

Mr Milei was asked if he still admired Mrs Thatcher despite her infamous decision to sink the Belgrano, killing 323 people. He said: “Criticising someone because of their nationality or race is very intellectually precarious.”

He was pictured speaking to the BBC alongside Margaret Thatcher memorabilia on a display table and a bust sculpture of himself.

He added: “I have heard lots of speeches by Margaret Thatcher. She was brilliant. So what’s the problem?”

The interview came after the UK foreign secretary, David Cameron, visited the islands and said their sovereignty was not up for discussion and islanders were a “valued part of the British family”.

The foreign secretary on his visit to the Falklands (PA)
The foreign secretary on his visit to the Falklands (PA)

And President Milei said: “If that territory is now in the hands of the UK, he has a right to do that. I don’t see that as a provocation.”

The leader, who has been nicknamed “El Loco” (the madman), said he wanted the islands to become Argentine “within the framework of peace”.

He said: “We are not going to relinquish our sovereignty, nor are we going to seek conflict with the United Kingdom.”

He said taking back the Falklands from Britain would “take time” and would involve a “long-term negotiation”.

He added: “They might not want to negotiate today. At some later point they might want to. Many positions have changed over time.”

Argentina has long claimed sovereignty over the islands, which lie about 300 miles from South America and 8,000 miles from Britain.

Argentina argues that the islands were illegally taken from it in 1833. The UK, which says its territorial claim dates to 1765, sent a warship to the islands in 1833 to expel Argentine forces who had sought to establish sovereignty over the territory.

Islanders voted overwhelmingly in a 2013 referendum to remain a British Overseas Territory.