BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ The Foreign Ministry on Monday called for Britain to submit to international arbitration over the ownership of the disputed Falkland Islands.

The response by Britain, which recovered the South Atlantic islands 74 days after an Argentine military invasion of the archipelago in 1982, was a chilly rebuff.

''The question of sovereignty was put under an umbrella when both governments agreed to resume diplomatic relations'' in 1990, said Gregory Faulkner, consul at the British Embassy.

''That umbrella remains in place,'' Faulkner said.

President Carlos Menem suggested last week that he might seek international arbitration on ownership of the islands the Argentines call Las Malvinas.

On Monday, the Foreign Ministry stated in a communique that arbitration is one of several alternatives to resolve an impasse that dates to 1833.

Argentina claims it inherited the islands from Spain upon achieving independence in 1816, and Britain took them by force 17 years later.

Despite Britain's presence for the past 159 years at the onetime whaling station that now is home to about 2,000 sheepherders and fishermen, ''We are confident that ... sooner or later the Malvinas ... will return to Argentine sovereignty,'' the Foreign Ministry stated.

''While it is possible that Britain still cannot accompany us in the realization of this effort, we believe that sooner or later that moment will come,'' the communique stated.