BUENOS AIRES, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Argentina's new government said it would press its claims over the Falklands Islands, which Britain has ruled since 1833.
The conservative government of President Mauricio Macri, sworn in several weeks ago, announced in a statement he is inviting the Britain to begin negotiations over the Pacific Ocean islands west of Argentina.
Argentina seeks to "solve, as soon as possible ... the sovereignty dispute over the Falklands Islands." It promised "the path of dialogue, peace and diplomacy," a stance different from the two-month war in 1982 over the fate of the islands, in which 649 Argentinians and 255 British servicemen died.
While the Falkland Islands have little practical or strategic value, their ownership remains a sore spot in relations between both countries. Argentina refers to them as the Malvinas Islands and regards the British occupation as illegal. Britain regards them as among the last of its colonies and its population of about 3,000 as British citizens.
The statement Sunday, by Argentinian Foreign Minister Susanna Malcorra, noted the United Nations and numerous international blocs have called for the transition of the islands to Argentina.
In December, after the exit of previous Argentinian President Christina Kirchner, who pressed Britain on giving up the islands, British Prime Minister David Cameron urged Argentina to take a "more mature" approach to the issue, saying he was "eager to improve" relations with Argentina. In regard to Falkland Islands residents' choice to remain British, though, he added, this "does not and will not change my government's position on your right to self-determination. On this we are immoveable."