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ARGENTINA | 17-01-2024 19:59

Malvinas, IMF on agenda as President Milei meets UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron

Argentina’s libertarian leader meets with former UK prime minister David Cameron on the sidelines of the Davos summit – Malvinas and IMF support topped the agenda.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron secured the first meeting with President Javier Milei at the World Economic Forum in Davos, with the disputed Malvinas (Falkland) Islands and Argentina’s multi-billion-dollar credit programme with the International Monetary Fund topping the agenda.

Milei, 53, shook hands with Cameron, a former prime minister of the United Kingdom, on the sidelines of the summit of the global political and business elite.

The British official was accompanied by a translator, while Milei was joined by Foreign Minister Diana Mondino and his sister, presidential chief-of-staff Karina Milei.

During the brief 20-minute meeting, Milei and Cameron conversed about the Malvinas sovereignty dispute, British support for the negotiations between Argentina and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a shared desire to boost diplomatic ties between both nations.

"There is much in which the United Kingdom and Argentina could work together. I met President Javier Milei to discuss the construction of cooperation in trade and the fight against global threats. I wished him the best in his attempts to return Argentina to economic growth," said Cameron in a post on his official Twitter account.

On his side, the President highlighted the British Foreign Secretary’s support for Argentina.

“It was an excellent meeting, very cordial. We spoke of deepening the commercial ties and of the support they will give us with the IMF, as well as how to promote British investment in Argentina,” said Milei afterwards.

In dialogue with Infobae, Presidente Milei revealed that “there was no advance in depth” in the Malvinas issue, “but we did fix it as one point within an agenda where our Foreign Minister Diana Mondino and Secretary Cameron will advance in [the] quest of a solution to this issue.”

The meeting came prior to Milei’s speech at the event, in which he defended free-market capitalism, slammed socialism and criticised climate change theories, feminism and social justice policies. He ended his address to the summit by warning that “the state is not the solution” and proclaiming business owners as “heroes.”

Cameron reportedly managed to secure the first meeting with Milei by sending him a message via WhatsApp. The encounter was organised during Milei’s trip to Europe, during a stopover in Germany. 

 

Criticism

News of the meeting met with criticism from opposition politicians. Unión por la Patria deputy Santiago Cafiero – Argentina’s foreign minister until last month – suggested that only Mondino should have gone to the meeting as the British minister’s equal in rank.

"Presidents don’t meet foreign ministers, the first thing I would say is that. Presidents meet presidents, foreign ministers meet foreign ministers and so on. That counts for something in foreign policy," Cafiero told Radio La Once Diez in an interview.

The former government official nevertheless explained that "it was not up to him to give advice." 

Questioning Milei’s handling of the Malvinas sovereignty dispute, Cafiero recalled a G20 meeting in 2022 when then-British prime minister Boris Johnson requested a meeting with then-president Alberto Fernández.

"We granted him that meeting but the first thing we told him was that the relationship between Argentina and the United Kingdom would never be complete until the underlying question between us, the Malvinas conflict, was discussed. The meeting ended then and there because he said that was not the issue," pointed out Cafiero.

"We said that it was not just Argentina saying that it was the underlying issue, the entire international community is saying that from the Organisation of American States (OAS) to the United Nations, from the G77+China to BRICS and Celac (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States)... A whole bunch of groupings of countries are saying it," he added.

Convinced that Argentina’s alignments should be based on the defence of its national interests, Cafiero criticised the Milei administration’s relationships with the rest of the world, pointing out: "I believe the main error to be the amount of ideology going into foreign policy."

According to this perspective, the Peronist former minister considered the withdrawal of Argentina’s application to join the BRICS group – a co-operation which had accelerated while he was in charge of foreign policy – to be a further error.

"Offending our main trade partners like China and Brazil is another error," he underlined.

"The foreign policy alignments are losing sight of the national interest. Argentina exports three times as much to India as to Spain and we had an excellent relationship with Spain yet it would be misreading today’s world to say that this requires an alignment,” said Cafiero.

“Argentina should not follow or fabricate an alignment without being required to do so and if they are being required, they should have the backbone to say no," argued the Unión por la Patria leader.

 

– TIMES/PERFIL

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