BUENOS AIRES/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Tensions over the Falkland Islands flared again on Wednesday, with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez referring to Britain’s leader as “almost ill-mannered” in his comments to an official of her government over the contested archipelago.
At a meeting of Latin American countries with the European Union in Brussels, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman had a heated exchange over dinner with Prime Minister David Cameron over the South Atlantic islands’ sovereignty. The two countries fought a brief war over the islands in 1982, which Britain won.
“The prime minister’s response was irate, almost ill-mannered,” Fernandez said during a public address.
A British government spokesman said: “The prime minister robustly defended the Falklands and the islanders’ right to self-determination in response the Argentine foreign minister raising the issue.”
Argentine state news service Telam said Timerman denounced Britain for clinging to a “colonialist” policy and that Cameron had referred to those comments as “threatening”. The British spokesman said Cameron had accused Argentina of threatening companies operating in the seas around the islands.
“The prime minister underlined that the islanders had expressed their view in a referendum and that should be respected,” he said. “He went on to add that the waters around the Falklands were territorial waters and it was unacceptable of Argentina to threaten investors seeking to operate there.”
In April, Argentina started legal proceedings in one of its courts against five companies, of which three are British, that are drilling for oil and gas off the Falklands, a move Britain denounced as bullying.
Britain administers the islands, known as the Malvinas in Argentina, as an overseas territory. The archipelago’s population of around 3,000 voted overwhelmingly to remain under British rule in a referendum in 2013.
(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein in Buenos Aires and Alastair Macdonald in Brussels; Editing by Leslie Adler)