LOS CABOS, Mexico (AP) – The dispute over the Falklands Islands reached the G-20 summit in Mexico on Tuesday when the leaders of Britain and Argentina had an uncomfortable talk on the conference’s sidelines.
British Prime Minister David Cameron approached Argentine President Cristina Fernandez to talk about banking reform and during the conversation asked her to respect the view of islanders, said Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman.
Fernandez responded by trying to hand Cameron an envelope with U.N. resolutions that called for Argentine-British dialogue over the Falklands Islands. But Cameron “refused to take the envelope, turned around and walked off,” Timerman said.
A Downing Street spokesman said that Cameron did not actually refuse to accept the envelope, saying it was not clear to him whether Fernandez had really tried to hand it over.
The spokesman, who declined to be named in line with department policy, said Cameron told Fernandez: “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.”
Fernandez has been campaigning to shore up support for Argentina’s sovereignty claim to the Falklands 30 years after the two countries fought a brief but bloody war over the South Atlantic archipelago.
The Falkland Islands government announced plans last week for a 2013 referendum on the territory’s political future.
Cameron has said Britain will follow the decision of islanders when they hold their vote.
Argentina has been intensifying its campaign to pressure Britain into sovereignty talks, a theme it pushes in every international forum. The Argentine claim to the islands has support across Latin America.
Argentines insist Britain has illegally occupied the islands they call the Islas Malvinas since 1833. Britain accuses Buenos Aires of ignoring the wishes of the island’s population of about 3,000 people.
Associated Press Writers Almudena Calatrava in Buenos Aires and Sylvia Hui in London contributed to this report.
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