UPDATE 1-UK's Cameron hits back at Argentina over Falklands
* Tensions rise as Falklands war anniversary approaches
* Britain's Cameron says will defend islanders' wishes
* Argentina to present "militarization" protest at U.N. (Adds Argentina to present protest on Friday)
By Adrian Croft
STOCKHOLM, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron hit back at Argentina on Thursday over its plans to protest to the United Nations against British "militarisation" of the Falklands, saying islanders would have London's backing for as long as they wished to remain British.
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez accused Britain on Tuesday of "militarizing the South Atlantic" and said she would complain to the United Nations, as tension rises before the 30th anniversary of the Falklands war this year.
"Argentina will find when she goes to the United Nations that it is an absolutely key part of the United Nations charter to support self-determination," Cameron told a news conference after talks with Nordic and Baltic leaders in Stockholm.
"The people of the Falkland Islands want to maintain ... their connection to the United Kingdom.
"As long as the people in the Falkland Islands want to maintain that status, we will make sure that they do and we will defend the Falkland Islands properly to make sure that is the case," he said in his first comments on Fernandez's pledge.
Britain went to war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, called Las Malvinas in Argentina, in 1982. London has refused to start talks on sovereignty with Argentina unless the roughly 3,000 islanders want them.
A war of words between the two governments has escalated in recent months. Oil exploration by British companies off the islands has raised the stakes.
Fernandez condemned British plans to deploy one of its most advanced destroyers, HMS Dauntless, to the area. She also criticised the posting of Prince William, second in line to the British throne, to the islands as a military search-and-rescue pilot.
Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman will present the country's complaint to the U.N. Security Council's president on Friday, a ministry statement said.
Britain has denied militarizing the South Atlantic and says its "defensive posture" in the islands remains unchanged. (Reporting by Adrian Croft and Helen Popper in Buenos Aires; Editing by Jackie Frank)
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