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British minister flies to the Falklands after Argentina’s president-elect Javier Milei vows to 'get them back'

British minister flies to the Falklands after Argentina’s president-elect Javier Milei vows to 'get them back'

A British minister flew to the Falklands on Thursday after Argentina’s president-elect Javier Milei declared his country’s “non-negotiable” sovereignty over the islands.

David Rutley, minister for the overseas territories, stressed the UK strongly backs the islanders’ rights to self-determination as an “important part of the British family”.

Milei’s election has triggered fresh talk over the future of the Falklands, known as the Islas Malvinas in Argentina, after he promised during his election campaign to “get them back”.

But as he headed for the islands in the South Atlantic, Mr Rutley said: “During my visit to the Falkland Islands, I will reiterate that the UK stands firmly behind the Falkland Islanders’ rights of self-determination, as an important part of the British family.

“The Falkland Islands has a flourishing economy and is making great strides in the fight against climate change, which I look forward to learning about first-hand.”

Mr Milei said during a TV debate in the run-up to the election that “we have to make every effort to recover the islands through diplomatic channels”.

Britain forced out Argentinian troops after they invaded the islands in 1982, with Margaret Thatcher sending a task force of more than 100 ships.

Milei has announced that he has chosen Luis Caputo, a former finance minister and Central Bank chief known as an expert in markets, to lead the Economy Ministry when the right-wing leader takes office on Dec. 10.

The pick confirms that Milei, a libertarian outsider, is building a more orthodox team to manage Argentina’s economy, which is suffering from red-hot inflation running at an annual rate of 143 per cent.

“Yes, the economy minister is Luis Caputo,” Milei said in a radio interview shortly after landing from a two-day trip to the United States, where he met with officials from the Biden administration.

As the first finance minister in former conservative President Mauricio Macri’s government, Caputo was in charge of a debt restructuring and later became Central Bank chief.

Macri’s party backed Milei in a November 19 presidential run-off election, and his allies now are jockeying for Cabinet positions, leading to some tensions with the president-elect’s traditional libertarian allies.

The market has welcomed signs of Milei’s more orthodox choices for key Cabinet positions. Argentine stocks and bonds have increased while the local currency, the peso, has appreciated slightly in financial markets since he won the election.

The incoming president, though, is warning Argentines to expect a painful period of high inflation and slow growth even as he seeks put many public companies into private hands and to reduce the size of the state more broadly.

“There will be stagflation because when you carry out the fiscal restructuring, it will negatively impact economic activity,” he said in a radio interview Wednesday. “What we are doing is creating all the mechanisms to stop the money supply and put an end to inflation within a span of 18 to 24 months.”

One of Milei’s main campaign promises involved getting rid of the Central Bank of Argentina as he said the country’s three-digit inflation rate was largely due to the monetary authority’s penchant for printing money.

Milei, an admirer of former US President Donald Trump, said he received a positive reception at the White House on Tuesday when he met with national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

“We were able to present our economic programme and have also outlined our international alignment. The response was truly very positive,” Milei said. “We staunchly defend the ideas of freedom, liberal democracy, and align ourselves neither with autocrats nor with those who do not respect freedom or democracy, nor with the communists. This stance was very well received by the White House.”

Milei has said that his top allies as president would be the United States and Israel.