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ARGENTINA | 07-06-2024 16:39

Milei cancels on Macron, zigzags on G7 amid hurdles at home

Milei reverses decision and will attend the G-7 summit in Italy next week.

President Javier Milei backed out of a scheduled meeting with France’s Emmanuel Macron, while zigzagging on his attendance at the Group of Seven summit in Italy next week, according to people with knowledge of his plans and local media. 

Milei reversed his decision within hours Thursday and will attend the G-7 next week, Argentine newspaper La Nación reported. Earlier in the day, people familiar with his plans confirmed he’d decided not to attend the gathering of world leaders after receiving an invite from Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. 

Milei was set to hold bilateral talks with Macron in Paris on June 19, which still appears to be cancelled for now. La Nación reported Milei will now travel to Europe June 12-15 for the G-7, return to Argentina and then go back to Europe June 22-24 for separate events. 

The evolving agenda comes ahead of a crucial moment for his sprawling package of pro-market reforms in the Senate, where opposition lawmakers have threatened to strip several major provisions in a key vote next week.

Ongoing negotiations over the reform package contributed to Milei’s cancellation of the visit with Macron, according to one person familiar, who requested anonymity to discuss the situation. 

The new itinerary alters the scope of the trip with key allies. Beyond Macron, Milei’s new travel dates also put at risk his attendance at the Ukraine summit in Switzerland, where President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to present a blueprint for peace in his nation’s ongoing war with Russia.

Milei’s reform package, split between two bills, passed Argentina’s lower house in April but is now facing fresh challenges in the Senate. Lawmakers are attempting to strip the bills of provisions that would reintroduce income taxes and privatise state-run companies, two measures meant to help the government close a chronic spending gap.

On the second trip to Europe in June, Milei will return to Madrid, which he visited last month, to receive an award from a libertarian institute in the city’s casino, according to the organisation’s website. Milei will also receive an award from the Hayek Society in Hamburg on June 22, followed by a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

Milei’s last trip to Madrid, where he spoke at a far-right rally for an opposition party, unleashed an all-out diplomatic brawl with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

by Manuela Tobias & Samy Adghirni, Bloomberg

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