London: Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday called on Argentina to take "careful note" of the wishes of the people of Falkland Islands, hours after islanders voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to remain British.
After two days of voting, the inhabitants of the South Atlantic archipelago decided by 99.8 per cent "yes" vote in favour of retaining their status as a United Kingdom overseas territory.
The referendum was a result of pressure from Argentina over its claims to the islands, 31 years after the Falklands War with the UK.
Speaking at 10 Downing Street here hours after the result of the referendum was announced, Cameron described it as the "clearest possible result".
"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 Falklands Islands may be thousands of miles away but they are British through and through, and that is how they want to stay, and people should know we will always be there to defend them," he said.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had made it clear that her country did not recognise the referendum, insisting it has no legal validity.
However, the local approval of status quo of British sovereignty saw just three "no" votes cast out of 1,517. There was a turnout of more than 90 per cent from 1,672 citizens eligible to vote in a population of about 2,900.
Most Argentines regard the islands, which they call Las Malvinas, as Argentine and their recovery is enshrined in the national constitution.
But for the islanders, the memory of Argentina`s 1982 invasion and Britain`s subsequent liberation in a brutal three-week land war has a different perception.
Nigel Haywood, governor of the Falkland Islands, said the referendum was a "massive demonstration of the way the Falkland Islanders feel and of the way they see their future".
"Obviously it is a major principle of the United Nations that a people have their right to self-determination, and you don`t get a much clearer expression of the people`s self-determination than such a large turnout and such a large Yes vote," he said.
The vote over Sunday and yesterday registered a turnout of more than 90 per cent from 1,672 British citizens eligible to vote in a population of about 2,900.
The result was announced in Port Stanley`s town hall on the islands amid gasps at the scale of the yes vote.