David Cameron paid a personal tribute to the soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave their lives to liberate the Falkland Islands.

Making his first visit to the national Armed Forces Memorial as Prime Minister, Cameron also reaffirmed his commitment to defend the Falkland Islanders' right to self-determination.

Taking time out from his official engagements to travel to the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, Cameron laid a wreath at the memorial to honour those the 255 members of the armed forces killed during the South Atlantic campaign.

During his low-key visit to the Portland Stone memorial, the Prime Minister was shown the newly-engraved names of the 59 service personnel killed during 2011 and was also given a tour of the nearby Falklands Memorial.

Taking place on the 30th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Coventry and the attack on the Atlantic Conveyor, Cameron's visit came five days after a service to officially dedicate the Falklands Memorial.

Speaking at the arboretum, Cameron told British Forces News: "I wish I could have been here at the weekend when the commemoration was opened.

"I wanted to come as soon as I could because I think the National Memorial Arboretum is an excellent place to remember those who fell in various conflicts.

"Obviously on the 30th anniversary of the successful liberation of the Falklands it's right to remember the 255 people who gave their lives so that the people of the Falkland Islands could live in peace and in freedom.

"That's why I am here today and I think it's a beautiful monument that's been established - and I'm sure many, many people will want to come here and see it."

Asked what reassurances he could give to the people of the Falklands given the recent comments of the Argentine president, Cameron added: "They have this guarantee - that as long as the people of the Falkland Islands want to continue with their current status as a British Overseas Territory, then they will be able to do so.

"We will back them, we will support them, we will defend them.

"We have the Falkland Islands properly defended for a very simple reason - we believe in self-determination, the right of people in the Falkland Islands to determine their future.

"I think it's important on this, the 30th anniversary, to reaffirm that and to tell people in the Falkland Islands they have our backing, they have our support."