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Falklands attack claims rejected
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said Britain would 'robustly' defend the Falklands against any attack
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has rejected claims that Britain would be unable to defend the Falklands against a fresh Argentinian assault as both countries mark the 30-year anniversary of the conflict in the South Atlantic.
Speaking as Britain's new Joint Forces Command comes into effect, Mr Hammond said Britain would "robustly" defend the islands against any attack and insisted "we have the assets, the people, the equipment in place to do so".
Admiral Sir John Woodward, who led the taskforce to recover the islands in 1982, earlier told The Times while Britain is without an aircraft carrier it would not be able to repeat the successful mission of 30 years ago.
Meanwhile, Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez will use the landmark date to make a major speech and lead hundreds of rallies across Argentina as she renews calls for Britain to cede sovereignty over the islands.
Mr Hammond said: "We are very clear that our position in relation to the Falklands is that we will be robust in defence of the Falkland Islands, but we do not intend to repeat the mistake of 1982 and allow the Falklands to be taken from us.
"We will defend them robustly, we have the assets, the people, the equipment in place to do so. Despite the rhetoric of the media, there is no evidence at all of any military intention by Argentina nor any military capability by Argentina to attempt to retake the Falkland Islands."
HMS Dauntless is due to sail from Portsmouth to the Falklands on Tuesday - a day before the 30th anniversary of the British task force sailing to war in the South Atlantic. The destroyer, the second of the Royal Navy's new Type 45 air defence destroyers, is said by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to be a routine mission to take over the patrols of Plymouth-based frigate HMS Montrose.
The Argentine government has threatened legal action against British and American banks involved in advising UK companies exploring for oil in the Falklands. But Downing Street said the move was not in Argentina's "own interests".
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We don't think it is in their interests or our interests. We are a big investor in that country. We think they are acting against their interests if people are attacking shops and branches of banks in Argentina."
Earlier, David Cameron issued a statement to mark the anniversary of the conflict. He said: "Today is a day for commemoration and reflection: a day to remember all those who lost their lives in the conflict - the members of our Armed Forces, as well as the Argentinian personnel who died. Today, we salute the heroism of the Task Force which set sail to free the islands."