Cameron described it as nothing more than a media stunt when Kirchner tried to force a package into his hands marked “UN Malvinas” amid a bruising verbal exchange between the two.
The contents of the package remain unknown. But Hector Timerman, the Argentinian foreign minister, described it as “an envelope containing various papers” and criticised Cameron for refusing to talk about decolonisation.
The row came as Cameron sought out Kirchner at the margins of the G20 in an anteroom before the working session got underway. They discussed the previous day’s agenda, including central banks and the need for monetary activism.
Cameron then said: “I am not proposing a full discussion now on the Falklands, but I hope you noted they are holding a referendum and you should respect their views. We believe in self-determination and act as democrats here in the G20.”
Kirchner replied, though the translator struggled to keep up. British sources, however, described her response as “ramblings about Spanish headlines, the UN and the Malvinas”, at which point she produced the envelope.
The scene mirrored efforts by a group of Falkland Island residents to invite Kirchner to a discussion about their homeland, as she attended a UN conference on colonialism, in New York on Thursday.
Britain has also seen as a victory its ability to persuade the G20 to reject Kirchner’s attempts for protectionist measures in the communiqué.
Cameron had previously accused the Argentinians of breaching a raft of anti-protectionist laws in a bid to shore up the economy and control the British-owned Falklands.
Immediately after the confrontation, the Argentinians called a press conference at the G20 summit to detail the events.
It was a chaotic press conference, where Timerman proceeded to accuse Britain of being a colonial power. “The UK is the most famous colonialist in the world, not Argentina,” he said.
The UK needed to respect the UN resolutions, he said. “They cannot demand to other countries to respect their resolutions when they do not do so,” he said.
When asked by the BBC if Mrs Kirchner had used the G20 summit to revive the Falklands issue, he replied: “You lie.”
Cameron denied the affair had been a media stunt on his part.
“All the countries locked in this dispute say they believe in democracy, human rights and self determination.” He said the aim of the Falklands referendum was “to put the issue beyond doubt”