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ARGENTINA | 23-02-2024 16:29

Blinken says Argentina 'can count' on US support to stabilise economy

President Javier Milei and Foreign Minister Diana Mondino received the head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, at the Casa Rosada, in a new gesture of rapprochement between Joe Biden's administration and Argentina's new government.

 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with President Javier Milei in Buenos Aires on Friday and assured that Argentina "can count" on the United States to help stabilise its economy.

"The people of Argentina can count on us as they work to stabilise their economy," Blinken told a joint press conference with his counterpart, Diana Mondino, where at the end of a whirlwind tour of Latin America he said he saw "tremendous potential" in the country.

"Argentina has what the world needs, we want to be Argentina's partner as it helps to feed the world," added the head of US diplomacy in relation to the agricultural potential of Argentina

He also remarked that the United States represents the country with the greatest foreign investment in the country and his desire to maintain it: "We want US companies to continue to be Argentina's partner of choice," he continued.

Previously, Blinken had met with President Milei, who declared that with this visit "Argentina has decided to return to the side of the West, to the side of progress, to the side of democracy and, above all, of freedom."

Earlier in the day, Blinken visited the famous Plaza de Mayo, as well as the Cabildo museum, the historic seat of the colonial and then post-colonial executive of Buenos Aires, where he held talks with representatives of civil society. 

This is the first visit to Argentina by the head of US diplomacy, who on Wednesday and Thursday took part in a meeting of his G20 counterparts in Brazil. He also met with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. 

Blinken's visit comes as the social temperature rises in Argentina, where the austerity measures of Milei's government are taking their toll, with 254 percent year-on-year inflation in January and half the population in poverty. 

On Wednesday there was a national train strike, on Thursday a strike of health workers and this Friday thousands of people are marching in Argentina's main cities to demand food assistance for community kitchens from Milei's government and reject his austerity policies.

Milei is scheduled to travel to participate in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday in Washington, where former US president Donald Trump will also be present.


US opposes Israel's 'reoccupation' of Gaza

Blinken also reaffirmed Washington's opposition to any reoccupation of the Gaza Strip by Israel as well as any reduction of the Palestinian territory's size.

The secretary of state's remarks were in response to a plan for post-war Gaza put forward by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which his country's Army would have "indefinite freedom" to operate throughout the Gaza Strip once Hamas is defeated.

"Gaza... cannot be a platform for terrorism. There should be no Israeli reoccupation of Gaza. The size of Gaza territory should not be reduced," Blinken said in Buenos Aires where he was attending a G20 meeting of foreign ministers.

Blinken reaffirmed Washington's support for Israel's right to "self-defence" after a Thursday attack near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, in which three Palestinians fired on vehicles, killing one and wounding eight.

Palestinians have complained of worsening Israeli-imposed restrictions in the West Bank since the outbreak of the war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas.

Israel's far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for a "firm security response... and colonization" by building thousands of new housing units in settlements like Maale Adumim and across the West Bank.

Blinken said that "new settlements are counterproductive to reaching enduring peace, and also inconsistent with international law."

"Our administration maintains firm opposition to settlement expansion. In our judgment, this only weakens, it doesn't strengthen, Israel's security."

 

–  TIMES/AFP

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