Details have begun to emerge of President Alberto Fernández’s next foreign trip. In the first days of February, the president will embark on a new diplomatic tour taking in Russia, China and Barbados, during which he will meet the three national leaders for talks on trade and international cooperation.
Fernández will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow on February 3, with whom he will share lunch. The following day he will be in China, where he will meet Xi Jinping in Beijing, shortly before the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations, which began on February 19, 1972.
Both those stops, a well-known secret in diplomatic circles, were confirmed a few days ago by Government Spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti, who explained that the meeting with Putin will form part of a 48-hour stopover in Russia, prior to the head of state’s trip to China to attend the inauguration of the Winter Olympic Games in that country, and to meet with the president of the People's Republic of China.
In addition, as confirmed by Perfil on Monday, the president will also make a two-day visit to Barbados for a meeting with Prime Minister Mia Mottley, with whom he is expected to discuss the climate crisis and issues related to CELAC, the Latin American and Caribbean organisation that is being chaired by Argentina this year.
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State news agency Télam reported this week the delegation accompanying the president will be a "reduced" group due to Covid health restrictions. For this reason, no journalists will be travelling with the president, unlike on previous tours.
The meeting with Putin in Moscow is expected to be one of the highlights on the trip and will be the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders. During a telephone conversation last November, both leaders agreed to try and arrange a meeting in-person as soon as the pandemic allowed it. On that occasion, the duo spoke about bilateral relations and “cooperation between the two nations” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Argentina was one of the first countries worldwide to adopt the use of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine and now produces a local version of the jab.
Cerruti has previously told reporters that the two “will talk about collaboration in the area of vaccines, investment, science and other issues of common interest" in their upcoming meeting.
Although Fernández and Putin had planned to meet at the G20 Leaders' Summit in Rome, the Russian leader announced 11 days before the summit that he would participate via videoconference, postponing those plans.
Activities in China
The initial purpose of the trip, Fernández's visit to China will coincide with the inauguration of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, which the Peronist leader is due to attend.
He will also attend a meeting with heads of state while in the Asian nation and his bilateral meeting with Xi Jinping is pencilled in for February 5.
Speaking at the tail-end of last year, Cafiero said that talks would focus on trade issues, especially talks regarding exports and imports.
Argentina wants to strengthen its presence in China and Fernández is believed to want to improve the nation’s trade balance.
Last November, the president sent a recorded message to the inauguration of the fourth edition of the China International Import Expo (CIIE), one of the Asian giant’s most important events. In it, he highlighted "the growing recovery of international trade" and called for "greater efforts to achieve more open, fair and balanced trade" in order to move "closer to a world in which no-one is left behind."