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Falkland Islands to hold referendum on rule by Britain or Argentina

Britain’s Falkland Islands are to hold a referendum on their "political status" - hoping to bring an end to the continuing dispute with Argentina over the islands' sovereignty, their government said Tuesday.

Britain and Argentina in 1982 went to war over the South Atlantic islands, and 30 years later tensions have escalated between the two nations.

Cristina Fernandez, Argentina's president, has asserted her country's claims to the islands - known in Spanish as Las Malvinas – and has asked for negotiations with Britain to end their “colonial” control from London.

The referendum is expected to take place in the first half of 2013. 

Read more on this story at ITV News

Gavin Short, chairman of the Legislative Assembly for the Falkland Islands, said he hoped a referendum would indicate islanders are "certain" about their future.

Mr Short said: “I have no doubt that the people of the Falklands wish for the islands to remain a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom.

An Argentinian television ad showing an Olympic hopeful training on a British war memorial in the Falklands has been branded a "stunt" by foreign secretary William Hague. ITN reports.

“We certainly have no desire to be ruled by the government in Buenos Aires, a fact that is immediately obvious to anyone who has visited the islands and heard our views.”

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Britain’s Foreign Office Minister, Jeremy Browne, who is visiting the islands, said: “Only the Falkland Islands people can determine how they wish to be governed, so I very much support this initiative by the Falkland Islands government. Indeed, I believe this referendum is a truly significant moment.”

The islands are 7,780 miles from the UK and 1,140 miles from Buenos Aires. They have been under British control since 1833 apart from during the brief conflict.

The Falkland Islands conflict lasted 74 days in 1982.

ITV News is the UK partner of NBC News.

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