Argentina's ambassador to Britain said on Wednesday she had not meant to offend British Prime Minister David Cameron when she called him dumb and his handling of the long-running dispute over the Falkland Islands foolish and totally useless.
In an effort to draw a line under the latest spat between the two countries over the Falklands/Malvinas Islands dispute, she said her words had been taken out of context.
Ambassador Castro referred exclusively to the failure of a communication strategy, the ambassador said in a statement issued by the Argentine embassy. ”They (the remarks) were not meant as a personal affront to Mr. Cameron, or to the Prime Minister's office.
Earlier on Wednesday, Britain's Foreign Office had told Reuters news agency it was seeking confirmation of the comments by Ambassador Alicia Castro, saying that, if reports of them were accurate, her words had been un-diplomatic.
Castro's comments had also ruffled feathers in Cameron's office. Referring to a referendum in March in which Falkland residents were asked if the Islands should remain a British Overseas Territory, a source from Cameron's office had said: We don't think it's foolish to listen to 99.8% of the population, who have made it very clear that they want to stay British.
On Tuesday during a forum on the ‘Malvinas Question’ held in the Argentine Congress, Castro told Argentine lawmakers that PM Cameron had unwisely publicized comments about the Falklands by former Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, made before he was named pope earlier this year.
Prime Minister Cameron was dumb, if I may use the word dumb before Congress Castro said during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pausing to laugh.
When the pope was named I asked one of our people to look into what Bergoglio had said regarding the Malvinas. Cameron did the same and was foolish enough to disseminate the information, she added.
PM Cameron said in March that the pope had been wrong to say in 2012 that Britain had usurped” the Islands.
However 10 Downing statements were in response to the attempts by President Cristina Fernandez and Argentine diplomacy of exploiting the Argentine born pope’s origin to have him involved in the dispute, calling him a “Malvinas pope”.
This was later downplayed by the Vatican reaffirming its long-held position of non intervention in the Falklands/Malvinas dispute between Argentina and the UK, because it is a matter for sovereign states, and ‘this position has not changed’.
In April, Ambassador Castro declined an invitation to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who led Britain at the time of the 1982 Falklands war.
The British media reacted strongly against the latest comments from Ambassador Castro who has been known for her most ‘un-diplomatic’ attitudes. She is referred to in the yellow press as “chicken or pasta” because of her background as an air hostess.
Statement by the Ambassador of Argentina regarding her remarks on PM David Cameron and the Malvinas Islands
The Argentine Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Alicia Castro, has clarified that part of her comments on the occasion of a conference in Buenos Aires in the Senate with the jurist Marcelo Kohen and the British journalist Richard Gott, was taken out of context.
With her comments Ambassador Castro referred exclusively to the failure of a communication strategy. They were not meant as a personal affront to Mr. Cameron, nor to the Prime Minister’s office. During the presentation the Ambassador mentioned the calling into question of Pope Francis by Prime Minister Cameron when he criticised the homilies that, as Bishop of Buenos Aires, the Pope issued in 2008 and 2012 defending Argentine sovereignty on the Malvinas Islands.
The Ambassador expressed that it was “silly” to compare the referendum of 1513 inhabitants of the Malvinas with the appointment of the Pope, head of a church that gathers millions of Catholics around the world.
The comments were in no way intended to be offensive. Alicia Castro personally regrets that some have chosen to interpret her words in that way.
The Argentine Embassy in the UK reasserts its strong commitment to dialogue, peace and respect between our Nations.