LOS CABOS, Mexico—U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron sought out Argentine President Cristina Kirchner at the summit of Group of 20 leaders Tuesday and told her she should respect the results of a planned Falkland Islands referendum on sovereignty, U.K. officials said.
"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," he said. "We should believe in self determination and act as democrats here in the G-20."
In return, Mrs. Kirchner handed Mr. Cameron an envelope of documents marked U.N. and Malvinas—the Spanish name for the disputed South Atlantic archipelago—but the U.K. prime minister declined to take it, the officials said.
The encounter between the two leaders was filmed by an Argentine official with a hand-held camera, but there were no media present, they said. Mr. Cameron and Mrs. Kirchner also had a brief discussion about central banks and monetary activism, they added.
Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman confirmed Mr. Cameron had approached the Argentine president.
"When the president was talking about the economy and the crisis in Europe, Cameron interrupted her and changed the subject," he told reporters. "The United Kingdom is refusing to discuss this [Falkland Islands] issue."
Last week, the two countries marked 30 years since British forces wrested back the disputed islands from 74 days of Argentine military occupation. More than 900 Argentine and British military personnel were killed in the conflict.
Britain has controlled the islands since 1833 and regards them as a self-governing territory of the U.K., but Argentina continues to claim the islands and has called for talks to resolve the dispute at the U.N.
Tensions between the two countries increased in recent months ahead of the anniversary, with the prospect of oil and natural-gas finds off the islands fueling the diplomatic spat.
Last week, the Falklands government disclosed it would hold a referendum on its sovereignty next year in a bid to end the territorial dispute.
The vote is likely to be a foregone conclusion. The chairman of the Falklands' legislative assembly said last Tuesday that the islanders had no desire to be ruled by the government in Buenos Aires, a fact he said would be obvious to anyone who had visited the islands.
Argentine officials have said geography and common sense dictate the need for talks over the Falklands. They said the U.K. can't block talks on the grounds of self-determination because the inhabitants aren't the original people of the islands.