LONDON (AP) — British Foreign Secretary David Cameron on Monday toured battle sites of the Falklands War during a visit meant to underline that the Falkland Islands are a “valued part of the British family.”

The visit by Cameron — the first British foreign secretary to make the trip to the South Atlantic archipelago in three decades — came amid renewed calls by Argentina for negotiations over the contested territory.

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Cameron said he hoped that the islands would wish to remain part of the British “family” forever.

“As long as the Falkland Islands want to be part of the U.K. family they are absolutely welcome to be part of that family and we will support them and back them and help protect and defend them absolutely, as far as I’m concerned, for as long as they want,” he said. “And I hope that’s for a very, very long time, possibly forever.”

The politician was taken on a helicopter tour of the islands and stopped at two battle sites in the 1982 Falklands War. He also visited a cemetery and paid respects to the war dead.

The islands, which lie about 300 miles (480 kilometers) from South America and 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) from Britain, have long been a source of tension between Argentina and the U.K.

Argentina argues that the islands were illegally taken from it in 1833. Britain, which says its territorial claim dates to 1765, sent a warship to the islands in 1833 to expel Argentine forces who had sought to establish sovereignty over the territory.

Argentina invaded the islands in 1982, triggering a two-month war, won by Britain, that killed 649 Argentine troops, 255 British servicemen and three islanders.

Islanders voted overwhelmingly in a 2013 referendum to remain a British Overseas Territory.

Argentina’s recently elected President Javier Milei has called for the islands — known as the Islas Malvinas in Argentina — to be handed over to Buenos Aires.

Cameron said the U.K.’s relationship with the Argentine government “will never be at the expense of the wishes of the Falkland Islanders, who in our view absolutely come first.”

Britain’s Foreign Office said that the two countries “would agree to disagree, and do so politely” over the issue.

The last British foreign secretary to visit the Falklands was Douglas Hurd in 1994.