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Britain to ‘Beef Up’ Defense of Disputed Falkland Islands

FILE - A child climbs on the Malvinas Island war memorial during a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the conflict between Argentina and Great Britain over the remote South Atlantic archipelago, in Ushuaia, Argentina, Monday April 2, 2012.

Britain plans to “beef up” its defenses of the disputed Falkland Islands to ensure they are properly protected, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said on Tuesday, in comments likely to irk Argentina which still lays claim to the archipelago.

Tensions over the Falklands still crackle more than 30 years after Argentine forces seized them and Britain sent a task force to retake them in a brief war which saw more than 600 Argentine and 255 British servicemen killed.

“I'm going to be announcing to parliament later today how we are going to beef up the defenses there,” Fallon told Sky news.

The Argentine government claims the islands, which are 300 miles off the Argentine coast and 8,000 miles from Britain, as its own and has stepped up a campaign to get what it calls Las Malvinas back.

“We have to respond to that and make sure that the islands are properly protected. We have to take account of any future and possible threats to the islands,” Fallon told BBC Radio.

The Sun newspaper reported on Tuesday that Russia was working on a deal to lease 12 long range bombers to Argentina.

“That particular deal hasn't been confirmed,” Fallon said, saying a threat remained nonetheless. “It is a very live threat, we have to respond to it,” he said.

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