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ARGENTINA | 09-01-2023 23:17

Lula, CELAC and Scholz head president’s packed international agenda

President Alberto Fernández will receive German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Brazil’s re-elected leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva before the month is out, with more than 30 heads of state also expected to attend the upcoming CELAC summit in Buenos Aires. Joe Biden and Xi Jinping have also been invited, though their attendance is not confirmed.

President Alberto Fernández is beginning the New Year with a packed international agenda, with several heads of state set to visit Buenos Aires before the month is out. 

Among those headlining the list of leaders travelling to Argentina are German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Brazil’s freshly inaugurated President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The former is on a regional tour that will see him also stop in Chile and Brazil.

A number of presidents and heads of state will also visit the country when Argentina hosts the VII Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) towards the end of January. As well as the heads of the member nations, special invitations were also sent to US President Joe Biden and Chinese premier Xi Jinping, though an answer has yet to arrive from that pair. 

Another high-profile visitor, Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa, is due to stop in Buenos Aires on January 10 for a bilateral meeting with his Argentine counterpart Santiago Cafiero.

The duo will mark 125 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations, an opportunity they will use to “deepen the bilateral agenda and evaluate multilateral positions,” the Télam state news agency reported, adding that the Japanese head of diplomacy could also be received at the Casa Rosada by President Fernández.

 

Lula and Olaf

Scholz’s visit to Argentina, which will span two days (January 30 and 31), will focus on the possibilities of expanding bilateral trade, investment and the financing of various projects, Foreign Ministry sources told the Télam state news agency.

The German leader, who succeeded Angela Merkel as chancellor in December 2021, will be accompanied by a large delegation of business leaders and journalists, according to reports. It will be his third meeting with Fernández but the first on Latin American soil.

Both countries maintain an "excellent link and promote agendas that highlight multilateralism and dialogue as key tools, with shared visions on different issues," said the Foreign Ministry in a statement.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s new President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is pencilled in to visit Argentina on January 23 – the day before the CELAC summit begins – for a trip that will seek to boost bilateral relations and relaunch the Mercosur trade bloc.

Lula is likely to meet President Fernández at the Casa Rosada for a working meeting that will include the signing of a number of agreements.

“"Because of the affection that Lula feels for our president, a great binational agreement will be achieved in financial, energy, agro-industry, culture, infrastructure and tourism," said Daniel Scioli, Argentina’s Ambassador to Brazil, in recent remarks to the press.

The other key event on the government’s foreign policy agenda is the hosting of the CELAC summit on January 24.

The meeting, which will take place at the Sheraton Hotel in Retiro, Buenos Aires, will see heads of state, foreign ministers and representatives from 33 member nations descend on the city, along with officials from a host of regional and multilateral organisations.

 

Joe and Xi

Argentina, which holds the pro-tempore presidency of the bloc, wants to strengthen the bloc’s position as a multilateral host for global dialogue, according to Government Spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti, hence the invitations to Biden and Xi, the world’s most influential leaders.

Diplomatic sources in Washington said that Argentina’s Ambassador to the United States, Jorge Argüello, hand-delivered President Alberto Fernández's formal invitation to Biden personally to the US State Department last week.

During the meeting, Argentina’s envoy spoke with the head of US diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean Brian Nichols about bilateral relations, which according to Argüello are going through "one of their best moments in history.”

The ambassador also asked for clarification over Washington’s so-called ‘Inflation Reduction Act,’ which, among other things, grants subsidies to electric vehicles.

Argentina fears the law could affect its lithium exports because it makes subsidies conditional on the majority of the metals in the batteries being sourced or processed in the United States or in a country with which it has a free-trade agreement. Argentina does not currently have one.

In addition, the duo planned events to commemorate the bicentennial of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1823. Events are planned in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta and Houston.

 

– TIMES with agencies

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