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ARGENTINA | 23-11-2023 14:35

Joe Biden tells Argentina’s new leader Javier Milei to count on support

Joe Biden tells Javier Milei to count on US support and that he’s confident Argentina can find a way out of its current crisis.

US President Joe Biden told Argentine President-elect Javier Milei to count on US support and that he’s confident South America’s second-largest economy can find a way out of its current crisis.

The two leaders spoke by phone for about six minutes on Wednesday, according to a senior Biden administration official who asked not to be identified without permission to speak publicly. The White House and a top adviser to Milei confirmed the call. Biden emphasised areas for collaboration and said that he looked forward to more engagements, the official said.

Milei, a libertarian outsider who won on a promise to take radical action to fix the South American country’s struggling economy, won the election on Sunday with 56 percent of the vote. The two men didn’t go into details about Argentina’s US$43-billion loan from the International Monetary Fund or Milei’s proposals to dollarise the nation and close the Central Bank, the US official said.

Milei’s foreign policy adviser Diana Mondino characterised the conversation as “very friendly,” telling reporters in downtown Buenos Aires that the two leaders discussed the Qatari-brokered deal to secure the release of Hamas-held hostages in Gaza as well as food and energy issues. Argentine citizens who were living in Israel are among the hostages. 

The US official said that Milei applauded the hostage deal, while Biden told him that there’s still a long way to go regarding the conflict in Israel and Gaza. Milei has pledged to focus his foreign policy on deepening diplomatic ties with the US and Israel, while he repeatedly said he would cool relations with China, but would still allow bilateral trade. 

Separately on Wednesday, Milei spoke with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiyy, who thanked him for his support, the European leader said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Milei is looking to implement shock measures from his first days in power to stabilise an economy battered by 143 percent inflation, a chronic lack of international financing, and an expected currency devaluation.

“Argentina is a terrific partner in the region. And there’s an awful lot of things we share in terms of values: value of democracy, human rights, and just hemispheric security and economic concerns that we look forward to working with him and his team on,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan congratulated Milei on X following his victory Sunday. 

“We look forward to building on our strong bilateral relationship based on our shared commitment to human rights, democratic values, & transparency,” Sullivan wrote. 

Biden has not yet been to South America since his inauguration in January 2021, although he could be expected to visit Brazil next year when the nation hosts the Group of 20 leaders.

by Eric Martin, Akayla Gardner & Manuela Tobias, Bloomberg

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