Lord Cameron hopes Falkland Islanders want to remain British ‘forever’

Lord David Cameron will carry out further visits in the Falklands on Tuesday after declaring that he hoped the islanders would want to remain British “forever”.

The Foreign Secretary is hoping to meet some of the islands’ most famous residents on Tuesday when he visits an area famed for its penguin colonies.

He will see the islanders’ work to protect the natural environment and see some of the million penguins that live across the UK overseas territory.

Later on Tuesday he will then travel on to Paraguay, where he will be the first UK Foreign Secretary to ever visit the country.

Speaking in the Falklands’ capital Stanley on Monday night following a wreath-laying ceremony to honour those killed in the 1982 war, he played down suggestions from the Argentinian president Javier Milei that there could be a negotiation on the future of the UK overseas territory.

Lord Cameron said: “Let me be absolutely clear: as far as we are concerned, as long as the Falkland Islands want to be part of the UK family they are absolutely welcome to be part of that family and we will support them and back them and help protect and defend them absolutely, as far as I’m concerned, for as long as they want.

“And I hope that’s for a very, very long time, possibly forever.”

The shadow of the Falklands War hangs over UK-Argentine relations, but Lord Cameron and Mr Milei had a “warm and cordial” meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, although on the issue of the islands, the Foreign Office said “they would agree to disagree, and do so politely”.

Lord Cameron told reporters in Stanley: “Now of course we want to have good relations with Buenos Aires, with the Argentine government.

“The new government, I think, have taken some positive steps and we’ll have good relations with them, but it will never be at the expense of the wishes of the Falkland Islanders, who in our view absolutely come first in this manner.”

Lord Cameron also faced questions about the UK’s attitude towards energy policy in the Falklands – which has potential for both renewable development and the exploitation of oil reserves.

The Foreign Secretary said the Falklands were “making some great steps in terms of renewable energy, particularly in terms of wind power, and also solar power and so we very much backed you in that”.

“You have your own government making their own plans and we will support you in that,” he said.

“But I would just stress, while we support net zero very, very strongly, it is net zero.

David Cameron visit to the Falkland Islands
Lord Cameron will visit Paraguay on Tuesday (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“And we think other countries, if they can responsibly extract hydrocarbons, that can be part of that zero because of course we’re still going to need oil and gas in the short term while we transition. I think that’s an important point to make. It’s net zero, not zero.”

He indicated the UK could be prepared to back the Falkland Islands government to use its own financial clout and borrowing power to support oil exploration.

Following his visit to Paraguay, the Foreign Secretary is then due to attend a meeting of G20 counterparts – including Russia’s Sergei Lavrov – in Brazil on Wednesday.

Russia’s actions in Ukraine will also be the subject of a United Nations session in New York later in the week which Lord Cameron will attend.

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