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ARGENTINA | 30-11-2020 23:32

Fernández, Biden agree to improve US-LatAm ties in phone call

President Alberto Fernández first Latin American leader to call US president-elect and offer congratulations for election win. In 35-minute phone call, Biden says he seeks "solid relationship" with region.

President Alberto Fernández spoke with US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday, with the two leaders agreeing that Washington’s ties with Latin America should be improved.

In a 35-minute phone call, during which Fernández congratulated the Democratic leader on his victory over Donald Trump in the recent US election, the Peronist leader said Biden’s win was a “great opportunity” to improve ties.

"At the beginning of the conversation, the Argentine president congratulated the president-elect for the result in the recent elections and stressed that his victory is a great opportunity to generate a better link so as the United States can renew its ties with Latin America," said a statement from the Presidency.

Biden responded that "the continent has great potential, with a solid democracy, and we have a broad agenda to work on, from Canada to Argentina." 

"I want to have a solid relationship with the continent," he added, according to the statement.

The two leaders then went on to speak about the economic situation in Latin America, bilateral relations and Pope Francis, who met Biden, a Catholic, during the American politician’s time serving as US vice-president.

Fernández told Biden that he desired a “solid and mature relationship defending security and democracies on the continent.”

Washington's version of the call said that Biden expressed his "appreciation for the longstanding and deep friendship" between the two nations.

He vowed to work closely with Argentina on Covid-19, though Biden's team said the US president-elect had "emphasised the need for even deeper hemispheric cooperation on advancing economic prosperity, combating climate change, strengthening democracy and managing regional migration flows."

IMF talks

Biden’s administration will play a key role in the new IMF financing agreement Argentina is currently negotiating. 

The United States is the IMF’s largest member by financing, and any major Fund agreement requires Washington’s backing. A previous record IMF agreement in 2018 granted to Argentina during ex-president Mauricio Macri’s time in office was backed by US President Donald Trump’s administration.

Although the statement from the Presidency didn’t mention talks about the IMF, Foreign Minister Felipe Solá confirmed Monday that Fernández brought up the topic.

The president asked Biden for “the collaboration and goodwill of the US executive director at the IMF, because we aren’t having much luck with the current director,” according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry, citing an interview the minister granted a local radio station. 

The US Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fernández plans to announce a multi-year economic plan as part of the IMF deal, a key ingredient seen by investors as an opportunity to restore some confidence and credibility. Argentina is in its third straight year of recession with inflation near 40 percent and double-digit unemployment.

Fernandez was the first leader in Latin America to congratulate Biden on his election victory, according to a tally by the Washington-based Wilson Center. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador have both so far failed to do so.

Fernández has said in recent interviews that he hopes to relaunch the US-Argentine relationship once Biden takes office in January.

 

– TIMES/BLOOMBERG/AFP

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