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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Falklands anniversary: Cameron repeats self-determination pledge

FALKLANDS veteran has launched a scheme to allow children of servicemen who fought on opposite sides of the conflict to make contact with each other.

Entrepreneur Tony Banks hopes the project will encourage the children of British and Argentine veterans to share experiences and build friendships.

The “Previously Unheard/Hasta Ahora Desconocido” initiative will pair up young people on either side of the Atlantic and enable them to engage in a live video chat.

Mr Banks, who featured in the television show The Secret Millionaire, was inspired to set up the project by his own experience after the 1982 war as he came to terms with what had happened.

The former paratrooper said: “When we arrived in the Falklands, we had never spoken to an Argentine before, and the kids that the Argentine junta sent to fight had never seen or met a Brit prior to their reaching the islands.

“Technology changes this, and it made sense to me to try to start dialogue and discussion between those young people who are most affected by the legacy of the 1982 conflict – the children of veterans.

"Thirty years ago today the people of the Falkland Islands suffered an act of aggression that sought to rob them of their freedom and their way of life," he said.

"Today is a day for commemoration and reflection: a day to remember all those who lost their lives in the conflict – the members of our armed forces, as well as the Argentinian personnel who died.

"Today we salute the heroism of the task force which set sail to free the islands.

"We are rightly proud of the role Britain played in righting a profound wrong. And the people of the Falkland Islands can be justly proud of the prosperous and secure future they have built for their islands since 1982.

"Britain remains staunchly committed to upholding the right of the Falkland Islanders, and of the Falkland Islanders alone, to determine their own future.

"That was the fundamental principle that was at stake 30 years ago: and that is the principle which we solemnly reaffirm today."

The run-up to the anniversary has been marked by a ratcheting-up in tensions between London and Buenos Aires, with the Argentine government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner loudly reasserting its claim to the islands.

In an article in the Daily Telegraph, the foreign secretary, William Hague, has described Argentina's recent aggressive actions as "deeply regrettable" and said the government's statements "have impressed few people, including in South America".

"We should remind the world that in the years since their liberation the Falkland islanders have repeated – without qualification or equivocation – their wish to keep their constitutional status, their national identity, and to live peacefully with their neighbours in Latin America.

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