Cameron and Kirchner’s ‘corridor clash’ over Falklands

By Cassie Chambers

Growing diplomatic tensions between Britain and Argentina over the Falklands have been brought to a head in Mexico, where the country's leaders have clashed in a corridor on the fringes of the G20 summit.

David Cameron and Argentinean president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner have engaged in an escalating war of words over the South Atlantic archipelago in recent months, but this was the first time the pair had confronted each other face to face over the hotly contested issue.

Mr Cameron approached Ms Fernández and told her that she should "respect the views" of the Falkland Islanders, who will soon hold a referendum on their future sovereignty.

Diplomatic tensions between Argentina and the UK are acute at present as both sides marked the 30th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War last week. Both countries still claim the territory.

During the conversation, Mr Cameron said to Ms Fernández: "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."

Ms Fernández then tried to hand Mr Cameron a copy of the 1985 UN Resolution 40/21 that asks both countries to reach a "peaceful" agreement regarding the Falkland Islands.

Argentina's foreign minister, Hector Timmerman claimed the president had the UN resolutions and told Mr Cameron: "Let's respect the United Nations."

He added: "The prime minister refused to accept the documents, turned his back and walked away without a farewell."

A Downing Street official denied Ms Fernández tried to hand the documents to Mr Cameron.

"We don't need an envelope from Fernandez to know what the UN resolutions say," the spokesperson said.

"All the UN resolutions do refer to the UN charter, which enshrines the principle of self-determination and that is what we are asking the Argentines to respect".

Mr Timmerman later spoke out against Mr Cameron's actions, saying: "After years of acting as a colonial power they have forgotten that they are responsible for the existence of colonialism, and that it is countries like Argentina that defeated most of the colonial projects in the world."

The foreign minister added: "Nation states have the obligation to talk. We prepared an envelope containing various papers, but the British prime minister refused to receive it. Britain continues to refuse to talk."

The clash occurred prior to the first session of the G20 summit in Mexico, in which both countries are participating. There are no formal talks scheduled between Argentina and the United Kingdom at the summit.

Tensions over the Falkland Islands have been escalating in recent weeks, following the announcement of the referendum and Argentina’s continued claims to sovereignty. The Argentinean president has called for talks over sovereignty of the Islands, yet Mr Cameron has stated there will be “no negotiation” on the issue.

Speaking at a press conference after the encounter, Mr Cameron said: "I just think it was an important conversation to have. This referendum is something of a game-changer for the issue and I think it's good it's coming about."

"It's an important point to make to the Argentine president and an important point to make more widely and that's exactly why I did what I did."