Alberto Fernández has not yet told the United States government whether he will attend next week’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, with Argentina’s president in no rush to take a decision.
Sources close to the head of state told the Noticias Argentinas news agency on Tuesday morning that Fernández’s attendance is “still undefined,” implying a decision would be taken at the last minute.
However, multiple local outlets report that the Peronist leader is likely to travel, at the very least to represent the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), of which Argentina currently holds the pro-tempore presidency.
Additional reports that Fernández intended to call a CELAC “counter-summit” to challenge the United States are thought to be wide of the mark.
Last Friday, leftist leaders from Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia railed against the United States in Havana, days ahead of the June 6-10 summit, whose invitation list has overshadowed the agenda.
US President Joe Biden has described the event, being held in the United States for only the second time, as an opportunity to champion democracy over authoritarianism and has not invited the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela or Nicaragua.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is among those who have said they will not attend in protest at the exclusion of the three countries.
Most diplomatic sources expect Fernández to attend the summit, even though he last week criticised the United States’ “six-decade blockade of Cuba and a five-year blockade of Venezuela that has not changed during the pandemic" during a CELAC summit.
Hours later the president met in Buenos Aires with Christopher Dodd, the US government's special adviser for the event in Los Angeles, though he did not confirm his final decision to the Biden administration official.
A reporter on the RePerfilAr TV news show said Friday Fernández has been asked to attend the summit by Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro, who wants him to represent CELAC and protest against the exclusions in-person.
Opposition leaders on Tuesday criticised the president, accusing him of cosying up to Cuba and Venezuela.
"Alberto Fernández's doubts about participating in the Summit of the Americas reflect internal contradictions," said Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, a likely presidential candidate in next year’s presidential election. "Exactly the opposite is needed.”
Speaking at a press conference, the Juntos por el Cambio leader said the government’s position lacked coherence.
"Foreign policy must be secure, we must link up with the democratic world, there can be no alliance with Cuba and Venezuela," he declared.