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1982: Argentine flag hoisted on S Georgia

VIDEO : UK marines head for `invaded' islands

A group of Argentines have landed at the British colony of the Falkland Islands in the south Atlantic and planted their nation's flag.

About 50 Argentines are reported to have arrived at Leith Harbour, on South Georgia, about 1,400 miles east of the Falklands archipelago off the Argentine coast.

South Georgia is a dependency of the disputed Falklands Islands which Britain claimed in 1833.

The British Antarctic survey team at Grytviken, on South Georgia, reported their arrival today.

Provocative step

They are understood to have a commercial contract to remove scrap metal at Leith Harbour but there are reports they arrived aboard a ship chartered by the Argentine Government.

The group has been asked to leave immediately and seek British permission to work on the island.

There is no indication of what the group's motivation is or whether it has hostile intentions.

The Foreign Office has not commented on the incident and it is not known if Britain will dispatch the Royal Navy's patrol ship HMS Endurance, which is in the Falklands area, where about 40 marines are stationed at any one time.

Today's events are seen as a provocative step in the on-going dispute between Britain and Argentina over the sovereignty of the islands.

Argentina calls the Falkland Islands the Islas Malvinas and it has claimed sovereignty over it ever since the end of Spanish rule.

Last month, talks in New York between the two countries broke down after Argentina declared it would break off negotiations with London to seek other means of solving the dispute more speedily.

But Britain maintains the Falkland Islands, made up of two main islands and nearly 300 smaller ones, will not be handed to Argentina without the approval of the islanders and British Parliament.

In Context
The arrival of the Argentines on the island was not reported in Britain until two days later when the Foreign Office released a statement.

Government sources said it was most likely sponsored by a commercial company and not the Argentine Government.

But within days the situation escalated and on 2 April Argentine forces invaded the islands as the military Junta decided to use force instead of diplomacy to regain the territories.

Many did not expect Britain to retaliate but on 5 April a British task force set sail and 655 Argentines died along with 255 British servicemen in the ensuing war.

It ended on 14 June when the commander of the Argentine garrison at Port Stanley surrendered to British troops.


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