But Jorge Taiana, the Argentinian foreign minister, said at a news conference on Thursday that such remarks were "irresponsible, unfounded and do not show respect".

"It is an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs," he said.

Panetta said the US is concerned about how the economic crisis will affect stability [AFP]
"This isn't the view of the country expressed in our dialogues with representatives of the [US] State Department and numerous members of the two main parties in the House of Representatives and the Senate."

He said Earl Wayne, the US ambassador, would be asked to explain Panetta's statements on Friday.

The CIA recently began producing a daily economic briefing for the administration of Barack Obama, the US president, to reflect its concerns about the impact of the global economic crisis.

"What happens in the economy and what's happening as a result of that is affecting the stability of the world," Panetta said.

"And as an intelligence agency, we've got to pay attention to that because we have to know whether or not the economic impacts in China or Russia or any place else are in fact influencing then the policies of those countries when it comes to foreign affairs and when it comes to the issues that we care about."