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What is the United States looking for in Joe Biden's meeting with Alberto Fernández?


They meet this Wednesday. The White House said they will highlight democratic values. But experts mark other clues.

One day before the summit of presidents Alberto Fernández and Joe Biden, the White House affirmed this Tuesday that both will highlight "the importance of defending and protecting democratic values ​​in the region and throughout the world."

Meanwhile, experts consulted by


point out that the Biden administration seeks to show that Argentina is

"a key partner"

  --despite not having been

"a reliable and consistent partner"-- 

and that the United States can maintain "fruitful relations with a leftist leader, as long as democratic norms are respected”.

Biden will receive Fernández this Wednesday afternoon alone in the Oval Office and then they will go to a separate room for an extended working meeting to which officials from both countries will join.

The White House National Security Council spokesman,

John Kirby,

referred to the summit in a conference call in which he highlighted the 200 years of bilateral relations and 40 years of democracy in Argentina.

“The two leaders will undoubtedly stress the importance of defending and protecting democratic values ​​in the region and around the world,” he said, adding that they both share “the priority of fighting climate change and will discuss how to speed up the transition to clean energy, and how they can deepen the bond for the economic prosperity of the region and the two peoples", including "greater cooperation in telecommunications, 5G and space", two issues that are important to the United States in the competition with China in Latin America.

The US official also highlighted that: “We are pleased to have Argentina as

one of our partners that supports Ukraine

in the face of the Russian war, including in mitigating the impacts it had on food security.

The two presidents will discuss what they can continue to do to support Ukraine,” he stated.

Precisely this Tuesday morning, Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero held a virtual meeting on Ukraine with Secretary of State Antony Blinken – the Argentine was the only Latin American foreign minister invited – in which President Volodimir Zelensky was also present.

“We are committed to contributing to alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people

,” Cafiero said.

Gone are the frictions with the US at the beginning of the conflict, when Fernández traveled to Russia shortly before the invasion and said that Argentina would be the gateway to Latin America.

In Washington, everyone considered the summit definitively suspended, which had been postponed in July of last year due to Biden's Covid, except for ambassador

Jorge Argüello,

who had fought since day one of the Democrat's administration for the meeting to take place.

Why now Biden decided to receive Fernández?

What are you looking for?

The ambassador told


that "this bilateral meeting is the culmination of a policy developed over these years in which we have consolidated a virtuous and positive agenda between both countries." He added that "the two heads of state have shared and similar perspectives on the main issues on the global agenda and both governments work together in the different multilateral organizations.

With this Summit, the intensity of the bilateral relationship is enhanced"


The gestures of the White House are not random.

“A meeting in the Oval Office is no small feat

,” said

Benjamín Gedan,

director for Latin America at the Wilson Center and head of the Argentina Project.

This expert understands the codes of the White House because he worked there, in the National Security Council, during the administration of Barack Obama.

Gedan explains that “the White House is drowning in requests from leaders for bilateral meetings with President Joe Biden.

For some countries, it is not that difficult to schedule a visit to the White House either because they are important allies or because they are so powerful that they cannot be ignored.

Argentina does not belong to any of those categories.

He has not been a reliable or consistent contributor and is a middle power."

“That is why –adds Gedan- the visit gives important signals: that the Biden administration considers Argentina a relevant actor, at least in the region, and that the White House is capable of maintaining fruitful relations with leftist governments, as long as they respect democratic norms.

In this way, the United States would seek to show that a leftist regime that violates human rights is not the same as that of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua or that of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela --which it considers dictatorships--, but that it can be an ally of a enemy of progressive governments that respect democracies.

At the same time, by emphasizing democratic values,

it puts pressure on the government to distance itself from those regimes.

Gedan also risked

: "I would not be surprised if they also talk about the tensions between the Casa Rosada and the Judiciary and the centrality of the system of checks and balances in any democracy


The Department of State had already warned about this issue in January, in the context of the president's disregard for the ruling on Co-participation and the impeachment of the Supreme Court magistrates.

At that time, the US had called "to respect democratic institutions and the separation of powers."

As for what interests the United States in this meeting, the expert said: "They will talk about how Argentina can contribute to solutions to face global challenges such as climate change and food and energy insecurity, and regional challenges such as the migration and growing authoritarianism.

Jason Marczak

, senior director of the Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Center for Latin America, said, “Argentina is a key partner for the United States in the region.

And President Biden wants to show it with the presence of President Fernández around the Summit for Democracy (which is done virtually this Wednesday and Thursday)."

He added that "with the elections in Argentina this year, this visit presents an opportunity to strengthen bilateral ties at a time of change in Argentina. At the same time, it is true that President Fernández wants to reinforce the importance of President Biden's support regarding to the IMF”.

The summit takes place in a very delicate economic context in our country.

The executive board of the International Monetary Fund is currently discussing the fourth revision of the program

with Argentina, which makes the reserve goal more flexible because the Government did not meet it.

The situation may be even worse in the coming months, due to the severe drought and other variables, and they may have difficulties in reaching other objectives.

From Wall Street,

Alberto Bernal,

head of Global Strategy at XP Investment, does not put too many chips into something concrete emerging from the summit in this regard.

“I imagine it's going to be a purely political meeting,” he said.

“Regarding the IMF goals,

I don't think Biden is going to show much support to perhaps relax those goals.

I don't see why when they are already goals that assume a very manageable adjustment.

The issue of net international reserves should already be discussed and the specific issue of climate is already taken into account.

But in the fiscal part I think there is no more space, ”he added.

And he pointed out:

“The US is interested in Argentina managing to stabilize the economy, stabilize the macro


What I feel is that the investors who are focused on Argentina are already looking at the post-Alberto era, focusing on whether or not there will be a change of government, if the opposition will win and if the future government will have the possibility or not to adjust all these macroeconomic imbalances that exist”.

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-03-28

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