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Argentina protests planned UK army exercises in Falklands

Veterans remember the 1982 Falklands War, a conflict that killed 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British soldiers and three islanders (AFP Photo/Daniel Garcia)

Buenos Aires (AFP) - Argentina said Friday it has lodged an "emphatic protest" against British plans to hold military exercises in the disputed Falkland Islands, renewing an old feud after a recent thaw.

British Ambassador Mark Kent was summoned to the offices of the Argentine Foreign Ministry and given a formal note of complaint demanding the exercises be called off, the ministry said in a statement.

It said Britain was planning "illegal military exercises in the area of the Malvinas," the Argentine name for the islands, from October 19 to 28, including the launch of Rapier missiles.

"Argentina rejects the holding of these exercises on Argentine territory illegally occupied by the United Kingdom," it said.

British officials have said the exercises are routine.

Britain and Argentina fought a brief but bloody war over the islands in 1982 after Argentine forces occupied them.

The conflict killed 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British soldiers and three islanders.

Argentina argues it inherited the windswept islands from Spain when it gained independence in the 19th century.

But Britain says it has historically ruled them and that the islanders -- who number around 3,000, most of them of British descent -- should have the right to self-determination.

In a 2013 referendum, residents voted overwhelmingly to remain part of Britain.

After years of testy relations under the successive presidencies of Nestor Kirchner and of his wife Cristina Kirchner, Argentina had pursued something of a rapprochement with Britain under new President Mauricio Macri.

After taking the reins in December, the Macri administration opened new talks with London, culminating in a series of deals in September covering oil, fishing, navigation and trade in and around the islands.