Prime Minister David Cameron has confronted Argentina's president over the Falklands, as the two met on the margins of the G20 summit in Mexico.
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner attempted to hand Cameron a package marked "UN - Malvinas" but the Prime Minister refused to accept it. He told her she should respect the decision of the Falkland Islanders on their future in a referendum to be held next year.
A Downing Street official later said: "President Kirchner didn't actually try to hand the Prime Minister any document. If they do want to give us a letter, then it's easy enough to find the UK delegation office at the G20. But we don't need an envelope from Kirchner to know what the UN resolutions say. There have only been two binding resolutions, both in 1982, both of which Argentina ignored."
Relations between Britain and Argentina are in the deep freeze after Buenos Aires tried to use the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War to revive its claim on the islands it knows as the Malvinas. Britain has rejected calls made by Ms Kirchner to the UN decolonisation committee last week for direct talks to discuss the future of the disputed territory in the south Atlantic.
The tension between the countries has been ramped up during this week's summit after Mr Cameron singled out Argentina for criticism for its protectionist trade policies. Downing Street aides said the Prime Minister sought out Ms Kirchner to make Britain's position on the Falklands clear. Mr Cameron said: "I am not proposing a full discussion now on the Falklands but I hope you have noted that they are holding a referendum and you should respect their views. We should believe in self-determination and act as democrats here in the G20."
Aides said Mr Cameron gave a "clear and calm message" which he repeated three times as his words were interpreted into Spanish. Ms Kirchner was said to have responded with "ramblings" as she tried to hand the PM the envelope stuffed with documents, but Mr Cameron walked away.
In a speech to a business audience in summit venue Los Cabos, the Prime Minister said G20 countries should be setting an example to the rest of the world by avoiding protectionism and accused Argentina of failing to do so. He cited the case of the nationalisation earlier this year of oil company YPF, which is largely owned by Spanish firm Repsol.
Argentine foreign minister Hector Timerman later called an impromptu press conference in Los Cabos, at which he accused Britain of dodging the opportunity to discuss the Falklands at last week's meeting of the UN decolonisation committee, only for Mr Cameron to raise it out of the blue. He denied that Ms Kirchner was seeking to stage a political stunt by discussing the issue with Mr Cameron in front of an Argentine camera crew.
Challenged during the press conference over why Buenos Aires would not accept the outcome of the war 30 years ago, Mr Timerman said: "Thirty years ago there was a war, 180 years ago there was an invasion by the British of Argentina. Great Britain invaded Argentina four times because the ones who are famous around the world for being colonialists are the British, not the Argentines. Argentina has always opposed colonialism and it fought against it and we won."
Speaking later to UK broadcasters, Mr Cameron said: "I wanted to make absolutely clear here at the G20 to the Argentine president that the people of the Falkland Islands have decided to hold a referendum about their future. And if she believes in democracy, if she believes in self-determination, she will respect the outcome of that referendum. I thought it was important to make that point and I made that point with some vigour."
Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne rejected an invitation to travel to Buenos Aires for talks during his visit to the islands for commemorations to mark the anniversary of the war last week, as Fernandez de Kirchner challenged the British sovereignty of the Falkland Islands once again, calling it an "affront to the world."
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner listens during a meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York on the disputed Falkland Islands on the 30th anniversary of the end of war between the Britain and Argentina, on June 14, 2012. Argentina has said Britain has 'a duty' to negotiate the future of the Falkland Islands. Kirchner leads delegation of more than 90 Argentine diplomats and officials at the UN decolonization committee's annual meeting on the Falklands and 15 other territories around the world. Two Falkland Islands assembly members will put the case that the 3,000 Falklanders want to remain under the British flag. AFP PHOTO/Mehdi Taamallah (Photo credit should read MEHDI TAAMALLAH/AFP/GettyImages)
Picture of Port Stanley, in the Falkland
Picture of Port Stanley, in the Falkland Islands, taken on March 29, 2012. Next April 2 marks the 30th anniversary of the war between Britain and Argentina for the possession of the islands. AFP PHOTO/MARTIN BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/GettyImages)
Argentinian Marcelo Wytrykusz, veteran o
Argentinian Marcelo Wytrykusz, veteran of the 1982 South Atlantic war between Argentina and Britain over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), remains chained to the fence of the building of Argentine oil company YPF, in Buenos Aires, on June 5, 2012. Wytrykusz, member of the National Resistance movement, is protesting against the contracting -by recently nationalized YPF- of the 'Stena Polaris', a ship of British, flag for the transportation of oil from Tierra del Fuego to Buenos Aires. AFP PHOTO/ALEJANDRO PAGNI (Photo credit should read ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP/GettyImages)
A map of the Falkland Islands is inscri
A map of the Falkland Islands is inscribed in stone during the dedication ceremony of the Falklands Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, central England on May 20, 2012. More than 600 veterans and family members gathered to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Task Force Landings on the Falkland Islands. Initiated by The South Atlantic Medal Association 1982, the Falklands Memorial has been built to honour the Task Force and to remember the 255 UK servicemen and merchant seamen who gave their lives in the Falklands Conflict. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/GettyImages)
Tour guide Derek Pettersson shows the wr
Tour guide Derek Pettersson shows the wreckage of an Argentine trench, used during the 1982 conflict, near Port Stanley, in the Falkland Islands, on March 29, 2012. Next April 2 marks the 30th anniversary of the war between Britain and Argentina for the possession of the islands. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/GettyImages)
View of the St Mary's Church in Port Sta
View of the St Mary's Church in Port Stanley, in the Falkland Islands, on March 28, 2012. April 2, 2012 commemorates the 30th anniversary of the war between Britain and Argentina for the possession of the islands. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/GettyImages)
The flag of the Falkland Islands flies o
The flag of the Falkland Islands flies over number 10 Downing Street in central London on June 14, 2012. Britain's premier vowed on June 14 to defend the Falklands from Argentinian 'aggressive threats' as the 30th anniversary of the end of the war over the islands was marked in London and Port Stanley. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)
Argentinian Marcelo Wytrykusz, veteran o
Argentinian Marcelo Wytrykusz, veteran of the 1982 South Atlantic war between Argentina and Britain over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), remains chained to the fence of the building of Argentine oil company YPF, as a British flag is burnt in Buenos Aires, on June 5, 2012. Wytrykusz, member of the National Resistance movement, is protesting against the contracting -by recently nationalized YPF- of the 'Stena Polaris', a ship of British, flag for the transportation of oil from Tierra del Fuego to Buenos Aires. AFP PHOTO/ALEJANDRO PAGNI (Photo credit should read ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP/GettyImages)
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez d
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner delivers a speech during a ceremony to mark the 30th Anniversary of the 1982 South Atlantic war between Argentina and the Britain over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, some 3100 km south of Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 2, 2012. Britain and Argentina on Monday marked 30 years since an Argentine invasion of the Falklands Islands triggered a bloody 74-day war, amid renewed tensions between the two countries. AFP PHOTO/JUAN MABROMATA (Photo credit should read JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)