Argentina summoned Britain’s ambassador Friday to complain about London’s decision to rename a disputed part of Antarctica in honor of Queen Elizabeth II.
Buenos Aires expressed its “firm rejection” of Britain’s claim to the territory, which Argentina considers “an area in the Argentine Antarctic sector.”
Foreign Minister William Hague last week announced plans to christen the region “Queen Elizabeth Land” after Britain’s reigning monarch, who this year is celebrating 60 years on the throne.
Buenos Aires has charged that London, in renaming the territory, has violated the spirit of a half-century-old treaty signed by dozens of countries — including Britain and Argentina — intended to avert territorial disputes in the Antarctic.
The row erupted as British Prime Minister David Cameron, in a message to inhabitants of the Falkland Islands, accused Argentina of attempting to deny the rights of residents of the disputed territory.
Cameron said that Buenos Aires — which regards the South Atlantic islands as occupied Argentinian territory — was denying the 3,000 staunchly British residents the right to choose how they are governed, while undermining their economy.
“It is a pity that Argentina persists in behaving this way,” Cameron said in his radio message to Falkland Islanders.
“The British government will not stand by and allow your human rights to be ignored. There is no justification for any country to try and deny you the right to democracy and self-determination.”
Tensions flared between Britain and Argentina this year as both countries marked the 30th anniversary of the short but bloody Falklands War, which left 255 British soldiers and 649 Argentines dead.
British moves to explore for oil in waters around the islands have also stoked tensions.
Cameron has refused demands from Argentine President Cristina Kirchner for talks on the sovereignty of the windswept archipelago, which is known in Spanish as Las Malvinas.
The Falklands government announced in June that it would hold a referendum on its political status in 2013, in hopes of bringing the decades-long territorial disputes to an end.