Penguins, edible grass and net zero on agenda for Cameron in Falklands

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron saw some of the Falkland Islands’ famous penguins on his second day in the overseas territory.

On a walk around Gypsy Cove, the Foreign Secretary saw a small group of Magellanic penguins in the dunes and a pod of dolphins swimming in the waters below the windswept footpath.

He chatted to children involved in a local conservation group, who persuaded him to try a piece of edible grass growing along the coast.

David Cameron
Lord Cameron said he hoped the Falklands would remain British ‘forever’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

During his visit, he also met members of a Zimbabwean demining team who had helped make the area safe by clearing munitions left over from the 1982 war.

The shadow of the Falklands War continues to hang over UK-Argentine relations, with Lord Cameron saying he hoped the islanders would want to remain British “forever”.

The wildlife of the Falklands is one of the major drivers behind the growth of tourism to the islands.

Lord Cameron began his day with a bracing dip in the chilly waters of the South Atlantic.

David Cameron eats edible grass
Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron tried eating some edible grass (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

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.

David Cameron visit to the Falkland Islands
Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron takes a photograph of San Carlos Water on the Falkland Islands (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

But he added: “We think other countries, if they can responsibly extract hydrocarbons, that can be part of (net) 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.

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

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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