Lower House Speaker Sergio Massa flew to the United States this week for a series of meetings with high-level government officials in Washington and New York.
While the short tour was nominally designed to strengthen ties between the two nations and win support for Argentina’s bid to delay pending debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund and Paris Club, one of the Renewal Front leader’s top priorities is to set up a future meeting between President Alberto Fernández and his US counterpart, Joe Biden, in Washington later this year.
The ultimate goal, sources told Perfil, was to confirm the Democratic leader’s willingness to meet the Peronist leader and set a date.
To that end, Massa held a series of meetings with Democratic leaders this week, including Undersecretary of Affairs for the Western Hemisphere, Julie Chung, a key US State Department official.
"It would be very good if we return with confirmation of a meeting between Alberto [Fernández] and Biden. Hopefully we can achieve it," a source who will accompany Massa on his trip told Perfil before departure.
The highlight of the trip, in most local eyes, came Thursday night, when Massa shared a long three-and-a-half-hour dinner with former US president Bill Clinton. The “relaxed and pleasant” encounter, as described by aides, saw the duo discuss Argentina’s economic situation, sports and Clinton’s experiences while in office.
Argentina’s debt talks with private creditors and the IMF were discussed, while Clinton shared details of his dealings with Russia and Palestinian leaders. Massa even had time to gift the ex-US leader a shirt from his beloved Tigre football team.
Sources inside the Casa Rosada said that Massa and Fernández held a long meeting at the Olivos presidential residence prior to the trip. The duo reviewed the agenda, the “guidelines” of the trip and the key messages that Argentina is trying to convey to interlocutors in the Biden administration.
Among them were a bid to unblock negotiations with US pharma giant Pfizer over its Covid-19 vaccines.
The Renewal Front also met with Economy Minister Martín Guzmán before his departure to discuss Argentina's outlook, political agenda and future policies. The aim was to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Massa, who has a good relationship with a number of US politicians on both sides of the aisle, including ex-New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, is seen as the perfect vessel to communicate Buenos Aires’ hopes and goals.
The Tigre leader’s packed agenda also included meetings with Juan González, a key Biden adviser at the US State Department and one of the US leader’s most trusted voices on Latin America, and Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks, who chairs the US Senate Foreign Relations committee.
Before heading home for Buenos Aires, the Lower House speaker held a working meeting at the Argentine Consulate in New York and was due to meet with international investors.