Falklanders have traditionally had a terse relationship with Britain, which they still call the "mother country."

Until Argentine troops invaded the islands in 1982, Falklanders were virtually ignored by London and relied largely on Argentina for supplies, transport, and communications.

It was the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher that dispatched forces to repel the Argentines, and most islanders feel this would not have happened if a Labour government had been in power.

"Labour just wants to sell us off to the Argentines. They don't care about the islands, and that's why most people here support the Conservatives," says Port Stanley resident Tooie Goodwin.

But even under a Conservative government, islanders are wary of warming relations between Britain and Argentina. British firms have begun investing in the current wave of Argentine privatizations, and a British business week will be held in Buenos Aires next month. Even the 10th anniversary of the Argentine invasion of the Falklands passed quietly, with both nations diplomatically ignoring the event.

But for some, the conflict of 1982 and the loss of British lives is enough to secure the future of the islands.

"Whatever the government in London, the British public will not allow the islands to be handed back to Argentina. They backed us during the conflict, and all the soldiers will have died in vain if we are sold off to the Argentines," says Harold Rowlands, a Falkland Islands government councillor.

As relations between Britain and Argentina continue to warm, the islands could become increasingly isolated if they maintain rejection of Argentina. But most islanders say the policy should not change.

"We can never forgive the Argentines and want nothing to do with them." Mr. Rowlands says.

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