Britain, Argentina stand firm on Falklands issue

More than two years since their war over the Falkland Islands, Britain and Argentina are sticking to their diplomatic guns over the issue of who should own the islands.

Two recent mediation efforts - one by the Swiss government, the other by United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar - have produced no results. The UN General Assembly plans to debate the issue today.

Britain, which maintains a presence on the islands, is not prepared to negotiate on the sovereignty question.

Argentina, while willing to ''take the interests of the Kelpers (as many Falklanders call themselves) into account,'' is not prepared to link the question of sovereignty over the islands with the principle of self-determination, as the British insist should be done, says a high UN official. ''As a result, a formula has yet to be found which would simply enable them to negotiate.''

In the long run, some UN diplomats feel, a Hong Kong-type solution may have to be worked out, based on a formula of ''one country, two (political) systems.'' Argentina could gain sovereignty over the islands, but Falklanders would retain a great degree of autonomy.

A UN resolution urging Britain and Argentina to work out a peaceful solution was adopted last year by a vote of 87 to 9 with 54 abstentions. A similar resolution is expected to pass today with an even larger majority. But the effect of such resolutions is questionable.

''Britain ignores these resolutions since they are not binding and since, in its view, they prejudge the issue,'' a pro-British Western diplomat says.

According to another European official, ''(British Prime Minister Margaret) Thatcher and (Argentine President Raul) Alfonsin have little room to maneuver for domestic reasons. She may find it impossible to soften her stand on sovereignty after having paid such a high price in human life and in taxpayer money to push the Argentine invader back....

''(In) Buenos Aires, under a democratic regime, the people feel as strongly as before that the islands were originally taken away from them by a 'colonial power.' ''

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