Wednesday, June 12, 2024

ARGENTINA | 05-04-2024 17:01

Milei: ‘We must strengthen strategic alliance with United States’

President travels to Tierra del Fuego, where he meets with US General Laura Richardson and commits to forging closer ties with Washington; New aircraft incorporated into Argentina’s Air Force.

President Javier Milei travelled to Tierra del Fuego on Thursday for a two-day visit that underlines Argentina’s ever-closer ties with the United States.

In two speeches, the La Libertad Avanza leader called for a strengthening of ties with Washington and for a deepening of their “strategic alliance.”

"The best way to defend our sovereignty is to strengthen our strategic alliance with the United States and with all countries that embrace the causes of freedom," said Milei in a brief speech Thursday night.

The focus of the president’s trip down south was a meeting with and head of the US Southern Command, Laura Richardson in Ushuaia. The trip was designed to underline the Milei administration’s ties with the United States.

The scenario was not chosen by chance, as the United States is wary of China's advance in the region – specifically a deep space station – and in the southern part of Americas.

Milei was due to meet the US general  at around 9pm on Thursday night, though he eventually arrived more than two hours later, delayed by a late departure and an unscheduled stopover in Río Gallegos.

Despite the wait, shortly after his arrival, Milei – accompanied by Defence Minister Luis Petri – met with Richardson and US Ambassador to Argentina Marc Stanley.

Also travelling south were Interior Minister Guillermo Francos, presidential chief-of-staff Karina Milei, and Cabinet Chief Nicolás Posse.

‘Natural affinity’

Milei, dressed in Army fatigues, didn’t waste time in highlighting his administration’s shift in foreign policy. Thanking the US officials for their support, he observed that "Argentines as a people have a natural affinity with the United States” thanks to its principles of “freedom and the defence of life.”

The La Libertad Avanza leader has criticised previous Argentine governments for drawing closer to nations like China and Russia and called for a new relationship with the West, hailing the United States and Israel as his nation’s new allies.

"Sadly, Argentina turned away from these ideas for a long time. Today we are embracing them again," Milei insisted in his Ushuaia speech, stressing that “the West is in danger” from populist and Communist ideas.

"We both belong to the Western tradition with a culture, a political history and a way of living in society that is largely shared. A tradition that has at its base the ideas of freedom, the defence of life and private property, which were the banner of the founding fathers of both nations when they drew up their first constitutions,” said Milei.

“It is important to strengthen the ties of friendship with the United States" and in this respect anticipated that a new "logistics centre that will be set up will be the closest port of development to Antarctica.”

"We will continue to claim our sovereign right in Antarctica. Many governments have filled their mouths with talk of sovereignty, but have done nothing for it," he remarked, citing the threat of “drug-trafficking or Islamic terrorism.”

“The best way to defend our sovereignty is to strengthen our strategic alliance with the United States and with all countries that embrace the causes of freedom,” he declared.

Milei’s trip south came after the governor of Tierra del Fuego Province, Gustavo Melella, announced that he would not receive Richardson during her trip to Ushuaia. The government’s response was to send the president instead.

One of the key issues mentioned during talks with the US general is the controversial Chinese deep space station installed in Neuquén, Patagonia, which operates under permanent monitoring by Beijing.

US officials have regularly expressed concerns over the site and the Milei government is looking to carry out an inspection of the site, which was authorised under former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s government. 

Construction was finished during ex-president Mauricio Macri’s time in office.

New aircraft

This is Richardson’s third trip to Argentina and she came bearing gifts. On Wednesday, during a meeting with Petri, Posse and other officials, she made official the transfer of a C-130H Hercules aircraft to Argentina’s Air Force.

The purpose of her visit was to promote strategic defence relations and strengthen military collaboration in pursuit of regional security and the shared interests of both nations, said the US government in a statement. 

On Friday, after the Argentine and US delegations returned to Buenos Aires, Milei and Richarson met again at Aeroparque Jorge Newbery for a ceremony marking the handover of the Hercules plane.
The government said it views the transfer as “a symbol of solid bilateral cooperation".

"This iconic aircraft, with a history of service in 70 countries, will strengthen our capabilities," said the Defence Ministry in a statement.

In a short speech, Richardson said Washington had “heard loud and clear” Argentina’s “desire to align yourself with the United States."

She said that US President Joe Biden had asked her and other officials to “travel to Argentina to continue strengthening our bilateral relationship, which has been going on for 201 years, and also our common values of democracy and freedom.”

Richardson said the two nations "are bound together by friendship."

"Our bond is based on an unwavering commitment to democracy and the underlying values of respect for human rights and respect for the rule of law," she added.




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