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ARGENTINA | 06-06-2024 16:06

President Milei cancels G7, Macron visits as reforms face hurdles at home

President cancels trip to G7 summit and backs out of scheduled meeting with France’s Emmanuel Macron.

President Javier Milei has cancelled a trip to Italy for next week’s Group of Seven summit and backed out of a scheduled meeting with France’s Emmanuel Macron, according to people with knowledge of his plans.

Milei had been scheduled to attend the G7 after receiving an invite from Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and was set to hold bilateral talks with Macron in Paris on June 19. The change in schedule, however, came ahead of a crucial moment for his sprawling package of pro-market reforms in Argentina's Senate, where opposition lawmakers have threatened to strip several major provisions in a key vote next week.

Ongoing negotiations over the reform package contributed to Milei’s cancellation of the visit with Macron, according to one person familiar, who requested anonymity to discuss the situation. Milei now intends to kick off his European tour on June 21 to attend award ceremonies in Spain and Germany instead.

The delayed departure will significantly alter the scope of the trip. In Italy, the Argentine was set to cross paths with one of his chief political foes — Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — for the first time since taking office. He would have attended alongside Pope Francis, with whom Milei patched up his relationship after the pair traded barbs throughout Argentina’s presidential campaign.

Milei’s new travel dates also put at risk his attendance at the Ukraine summit in Switzerland, where President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to present a blueprint for peace in his nation’s ongoing war with Russia.

Milei’s reform package, split between two bills, passed Argentina’s lower house in April but is now facing fresh challenges in the Senate. Lawmakers are attempting to strip the bills of provisions that would reintroduce income taxes and privatize state-run companies, two measures meant to help the government close a chronic spending gap.

Instead, Milei will return to Madrid, which he visited last month, to receive an award from a libertarian institute in the city’s casino, according to the organisation’s website. Milei will also receive an award from the Hayek Society in Hamburg on June 22, followed by a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

Milei’s last trip to Madrid, where he spoke at a far-right rally for an opposition party, unleashed an all-out diplomatic brawl with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

by Manuela Tobias & Samy Adghirni, Bloomberg

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