Britain and Argentina were on Tuesday embroiled in a renewed war of words after the residents of the disputed Falkland Islands voted overwhelmingly in favour of it staying as a British overseas territory.

Argentina immediately rejected the outcome saying it did not recognise the referendum even as Prime Minister David Cameron described it as the “clearest possible” expression of the wishes of the islanders, and urged Argentina to respect their view.

“They want to remain British and that view should be respected by everybody, including by Argentina,” he said vowing to defend the islands over which the two countries have already fought a war.

A whopping 99.8 per cent of the voters — all of British origin — said “yes” to the question: “Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?”

Only three voted “no”.

Insisting that the islanders had the right to self-determination, Mr. Cameron said: “I think the most important thing about this result is that we believe in self-determination, and the Falkland Islanders have spoken so clearly about their future, and now other countries right across the world, I hope, will respect and revere this very, very clear result.”

The governor of the Falkland Islands, Nigel Haywood, called the result a “massive demonstration of the way the Falkland Islanders feel and of the way they see their future”.

'No legal validity'

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, however, made clear that her country did not recognise the referendum, saying it had no legal validity. Argentina, which calls the islands Las Malvinas, insisted it belonged to them and called for a diplomatic solution.

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