Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Falklands will be fully defended, Harman tells MPs

Ocean Guardian under tow
The Ocean Guardian is in Falkland Islands waters

The Falkland Islands will be "fully defended", Harriet Harman has said amid continuing tensions with Argentina.

The deputy Labour leader, standing in for Gordon Brown at prime minister's questions, said there was "no question" over the sovereignty of the Falklands.

The renewed tensions were triggered by a UK decision to drill for oil in the seabed near the islands, which has angered Argentina.

Argentina claims sovereignty over the Falklands, which it calls the Malvinas.

In the Commons, Ms Harman responded to calls by veteran Labour MP Gerald Kaufman to "reaffirm staunchly this government's loyalty" to the people of the Falklands and "uphold their wishes and their rights".

We do not believe that there is any need for a negotiation or discussion because there is nothing to discuss
Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant

Ms Harman said: "There is no question about the sovereignty of the Falklands, there is no question of their right to self-determination and there is no question that they will be fully defended."

On Tuesday Downing Street turned down a US offer to help resolve the issue.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the row should be resolved between Britain and Argentina, but "if we can be of any help in facilitating such an effort, we stand ready to do so".

However Downing Street flatly refused the offer.

Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant told MPs on Tuesday: "We have made absolutely clear that we do not believe that there is any need for a negotiation or discussion because there is nothing to discuss in terms of the sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, which should be a self-determined issue and solely a self-determined issue."

A platform, the Ocean Guardian, was towed to the Falklands from the Scottish Highlands and started drilling last month.

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