UK summons Argentine diplomat over trade row


Argentina’s top diplomat in Britain has been summoned to the UK foreign ministry to explain the South American nation’s decision to call on 20 leading companies to halt imports of British goods and supplies.

“Given our concerns over the recent incidents with the cruise ships in Ushuaia, and now these latest reports, we summoned the Argentine Chargé this afternoon for an explanation,” a spokeswoman for the ministry said Wednesday, according to Reuters.

“We will also discuss this concerning development with close partners,” she added.

Argentina’s Industry Minister Debora Giorgi urged company executives on Tuesday to replace British imports with products from other nations, in the latest attempt to pressure the UK to negotiate over the disputed Falkland Islands, Sky News reported.

More from GlobalPost: Britain, Argentina ramp up rhetoric over Falklands

Tensions are mounting ahead of the 30th anniversary of the brief war between Argentina and Britain over the islands in 1982, which saw more than 900 people die.

Discussing the decision to summon Osvaldo Marisco, Agentina’s chargé d’affaires in Britain, the foreign office spokeswoman said: “The UK is the sixth largest investor in Argentina, and we import from Argentina significantly more than we export to them. So it is firmly not in Argentina’s economic interest to put up these barriers to trade.”

Officials are also believed to be planning to discuss Argentina’s decision to turn back two cruise ships from the port of Ushuaia on Monday after they visited the Falklands, according to the BBC.

At a briefing in Westminster today, a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters: “It is clearly very sad that Argentina continues with their policy of confrontation instead of cooperation. We think that is counterproductive and also a complete misreading of Britain’s resolve on this issue.”

Argentina has long demanded the return of the Falklands, which it calls the Malvinas. The islands have been under British control since the early 1830s.

Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner has become increasingly assertive in pushing her country’s claims to the islands at home and abroad in the run-up to the Falklands War anniversary on April 2, amid oil exploration by UK-listed companies in the disputed area, The Wall Street Journal reports

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