February 3, 1999
Britain insists Falklands not up for negotiation

                  PORT STANLEY, Falklands (Reuters) -- Britain insisted on Wednesday
                  that the sovereignty of the disputed Falklands was definitely not up for
                  negotiation with Argentina but urged the islanders to have closer contacts.

                  Foreign Affairs Minister of State Tony Lloyd was reacting to reports from
                  Buenos Aires that Argentine President Carlos Menem might consider
                  temporarily freezing its claim if Britain promised eventually to negotiate

                  Menem said talks were under way about the possibility of the Argentine flag
                  flying over the islands before he finishes his mandate at the end of the year.
                  This would fulfil a key election promise for Menem, who plans to run for
                  president again when the constitution next permits him in 2003.

                  "The possibility exists for Argentine flags to fly over the islands," Menem told
                  the daily La Nacion last month.

                  Lloyd, interviewed by a local newsletter on the disputed South Atlantic
                  islands, said: "There are no negotiations about sovereignty taking place --
                  that is very clear, very unambiguous."

                  Britain has steadfastly refused to discuss the sovereignty of the sparsely
                  populated islands since expelling an Argentine force which captured them for
                  10 weeks in 1982.

                  But Lloyd did take the opportunity of expressing his desire for closer
                  contacts between Argentina and the Falkland islanders, who still remain
                  deeply suspicious and refuse even to allow Argentine passport-holders into
                  their territory.

                  "We have always made it clear that it is in the islanders' interest to look as to
                  how and in what direction and how quickly contacts with Argentina can and
                  should be developed," he said.

                  "I have pointed out to them that there has been significant advantage in
                  having contact with Argentina such as fisheries policy. It is very important we
                  recognise areas where there is mutual advantage in contacts."

                  Asked if Britain had come under any pressure from the United States or the
                  United Nations to negotiate over the Falklands, Lloyd said: "No, we have
                  not had any pressure. It is inconceivable that we would come under what is
                  described as pressure."

                   Copyright 1999 Reuters.