U.K.-Argentina Feud Over Falkland Islands Intrudes on G-20 Stage

A feud over the British-controlled Falkland Islands intruded onto the Group of 20 summit, as U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron refused to accept an envelope from his Argentine counterpart containing documents that defended her country’s sovereignty claim over the archipelago.

Cameron, speaking to reporters at the meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, said standing up for the rights of the Falkland Island’s residents to choose their own form of government was the “right thing to do.” He said a referendum to be held next year in which the islands’ 3,000-plus residents will vote whether to remain a British territory or declare independence should be recognized as a “game-changer” for the ongoing impasse that led to war between the U.K. and Argentina in 1982.

“I think this referendum is very important and I wanted to raise it specifically with the Argentine president,” Cameron said. “It was right to stand up for the people of the Falkland Islands, it was important to put this issue beyond doubt.”

In a discussion initiated by Cameron at the convention center where G-20 leaders were gathered, Cameron approached Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, telling the Argentine president that she should “respect the views” of the islanders, Alfredo Scoccimarro, a spokesman for Fernandez, told the state-run news service Telam.

Fernandez responded by trying to hand him an envelope containing United Nations resolutions backing Argentina’s claim of sovereignty over the “Malvinas,” the Spanish name for the area, Scoccimarro said.

“Fernandez told him that she wasn’t planning to talk about sovereignty and just wanted to give him this envelope,” Scoccimarro told Telam. “And at that moment, Cameron absolutely refused to accept it.”

Britain defeated Argentina in a 1982 war after Argentine forces invaded the Falklands. Tensions have heightened this year, with Argentina protesting the U.K.’s deployment of a modern warship to the region and Prince William’s arrival for a stint as a military-helicopter pilot.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anastasia Ustinova in Los Cabos at austinova@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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