Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta met with former US president Bill Clinton on Sunday during his brief tour of the United States, just two days after meeting US Climate Envoy John Kerry.
The Juntos por el Cambio leader and the former US president discussed the economic and political situation in the Americas and the fight against climate change during a lunch in New York, according to a statement from the City government.
Sunday’s was reportedly brokered by Rodríguez Larreta’s Cabinet Chief Felipe Miguel and US-based Argentine businessman Rolando González-Bunster, who went to Georgetown University with Clinton and is on the Board of Directors of the former president’s foundation. The latter was present at Sunday’s lunch, as was Fernando Straface, City Hall’s secretary general and secretary for international relations.
City Hall said that Clinton talked fondly of his visit to Buenos Aires in 1997 and said it was one of his “favourite cities in the world.” The Democratic Party leader, who served two terms from 1993 to 2001, reportedly said that Argentina “is a country that has great opportunities ahead,” and highlighted the nation’s “competitiveness in food production” and “export of knowledge-based services" during the two-hour luncheon.
During talks on climate change, which Clinton stressed was a “global commitment” for all nations, Rodríguez Larreta informed his lunch guest of his government’s Climate Action Plan, through which Buenos Aires is committed to halving emissions by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
The opposition leader reiterated to the former US president that he wants Argentina’s capital to be a “regional leader in the fight against climate change” and that through his role as vice-president of the C40 (Climate Leadership Group), he is seeking to get more cities in Latin America to commit to more ambitious environmental targets.
Rodríguez Larreta shared similar thoughts with Kerry, the Joe Biden administration’s climate envoy in a meeting last Friday, during which the Argentine leader stressed the importance of international cooperation to draw up “new investment strategies that prioritise urban projects aimed at caring for our resources and taking action for the environment.”
Rodríguez Larreta’s visit to the United States has been seen by some analysts as part of his move to position himself as a potential presidential candidate in 2023. Officially, the trip’s objective is to relaunch Buenos Aires as an international destination and recover the capital’s “visitor economy” following the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, underlining that it is once again open to tourists, international students and digital nomads.
During his initial stop in Washington, the City mayor also met with Argentines who reside in the United States and a number of business leaders, as well as Felipe Jaramillo, Vice-President of the World Bank for Latin America, and Mauricio Claver-Clarone, president of the Inter-American Development Bank, among others.
The City mayor is due to meet with Susan Seagal, the president and CEO of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas on Monday, before flying back to Argentina.