London: Britain has decided not to invite Argentine President Cristina Kirchner to the funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, 10, Downing Street said on Thursday, in a sign of the still bitter dispute over the Falkland Islands.
The government is still finalizing the list of foreign dignitaries who will receive invitations to the ceremonial funeral next Wednesday of the "Iron Lady", who successfully led Britain into a war to expel Argentine forces that invaded the South Atlantic archipelago in 1982.
Prime Minister David Cameron's Downing Street office said that some current world leaders would be invited – but Kirchner, who has led a fiery campaign to push Buenos Aires' sovereignty claims over the Falklands, was not among them.
"I can confirm that, yes," a Downing Street spokesman said when asked if the British government had decided not to invite Kirchner. There was no immediate reaction from Argentina. British armed forces personnel from units associated with the Falklands War, regarded by many Britons as Thatcher's finest hour, will carry her coffin at her funeral in St Paul's Cathedral in London.
Downing Street said it expected to release details later on Thursday of the protocol for inviting representatives of foreign countries to the funeral. However, it confirmed that some serving national leaders would be among them. Falkland Islanders meanwhile plan to hold a public day of mourning to coincide with her funeral. The islands' government said a memorial service will be held at the Christ Church Cathedral in capital Stanley next Wednesday, shortly after the funeral.
Falkland Islanders earlier this month voted 99.8 percent in favour of remaining British, although Argentina rejected the vote as meaningless. Some 649 Argentine and 255 British troops lost their lives in the 1982 war. Tensions have flared anew in recent years as Britain opened the islands' waters to oil exploration.


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