Latin America & Caribbean

Falklands tension: Argentina marks Belgrano anniversary

Argentine cruiser General Belgrano sinking, 2 May 1982
Image caption The sinking of the General Belgrano remains one of the most controversial actions of the war

Argentina has held ceremonies to mark the 30th anniversary of the sinking of the warship General Belgrano during the Falklands War with the UK.

Survivors and relatives of the 323 crew who died gathered in Buenos Aires to mourn their loss.

President Cristina Fernandez reiterated Argentina's claim to the Falklands, which it calls Las Malvinas.

The Belgrano - a cruiser - was torpedoed by the British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror on 2 May 1982.

Its sinking remains one of the most controversial actions of the Falklands conflict.

'Open wound'

"On days like these, we remember that there is a mission that is not over," Belgrano survivor Admiral Jorge Castro said at the ceremony.

"There are 323 voices calling to us that there is an open wound. Every day they they remind us that the Malvinas are, were and will be Argentine."

President Fernandez used the occasion to repeat her demand for negotiations on sovereignty over the Falklands.

She gave her backing to Argentina's ambassador in London, Alicia Castro, who on Monday asked UK Foreign Secretary William Hague to "give peace a chance" by opening dialogue.

The UK government says it will not discuss the issue without the agreement of the Falkland islanders.

Last month both nations marked the 30th anniversary of the start of the Falklands conflict, when Argentine forces invaded the British overseas territory.

A total of 255 British servicemen and about 650 Argentines died after the UK sent a task force to regain control.

The General Belgrano was sunk on the orders of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who said it had posed a danger to British ships.

However, the warship was outside the 200-mile maritime exclusion zone Britain had declared around the Falklands and was said to be sailing away from the islands when she was hit. Critics said the action was excessive and scuppered any chance of a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Argentine and Chilean ships rescued 770 survivors from the sunken vessel.