Lower House Speaker Sergio Massa flew to the United States this weekend for a series of meetings with high-level government officials in Washington and New York.
While the short tour is nominally designed to strengthen ties between the two nations and win support for Argentina’s bid to delay pending debt repayments, one of the Renewal Front leader’s top priorities is to set up a future meeting between President Alberto Fernández and his US counterpart, Joe Biden, in Washington later this year. The ultimate goal, sources told Perfil last week, is to confirm the Democratic leader’s willingness to meet the Peronist leader and set a date.
To that end, Massa will hold a series of meetings with Democratic leaders this week, including influential former US president Bill Clinton and Undersecretary of Affairs for the Western Hemisphere, Julie Chung, a key US State Department official.
"It would be very good if we return with confirmation of a meeting between Alberto [Fernández] and Biden. Hopefully we can achieve it," a source who will accompany Massa on his trip told Perfil. "We are working and fine-tuning everything so that it goes well.”
Though not yet confirmed, the speaker is also hoping to meet with representatives from the International Monetary Fund to discuss Argentina’s attempts to renegotiate its US$44-billion debt with the multilateral lender.
“We do not have it on the agenda, but we do not rule out a meeting with the IMF,” said another source close to ex-Tigre mayor. “We would, of course, [meet them]. But we will see what happens.”
Ayer comenzamos nuestra visita a los Estados Unidos con una reunión en Washington con @Cartajuanero. Tender puentes y fortalecer los lazos bilaterales es fundamental para alcanzar las soluciones que Argentina necesita en temas claves para el presente y el futuro de nuestro país. pic.twitter.com/icCLGhqJ9l— Sergio Massa (@SergioMassa) June 14, 2021
Sources inside the Casa Rosada said that Massa and Fernández recently held a long meeting at the Olivos presidential residence to discuss the trip. The duo reviewed the agenda, the “guidelines” of the trip and the key messages that Argentina is trying to convey to interlocutors in the Biden administration.
The Renewal Front also met last week with Economy Minister Martín Guzmán to discuss Argentina's outlook, political agenda and future policies. The aim is to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Massa, who has a good relationship with a number of US politicians on both sides of the aisle, including ex-New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, is seen as the perfect vessel to communicate Buenos Aires’ hopes and goals.
On the Tigre leader’s packed agenda are meetings with Juan Sebastián González, a key Biden adviser at the US State Department and one of the US leader’s most trusted voices on Latin America, and Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks, who chairs the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
While the highlight of the trip – especially in terms of a photo-op – will be talks with former US president Bill Clinton on Thursday (June 19), the main event is considered to be Massa’s audience with Undersecretary of Affairs for the Western Hemisphere, Julie Chung, another key State Department official. The lower house speaker hosted the US official at his house in Tigre in April earlier this year.
While in Washington DC, Massa will also meet with Jewish community leaders, business leaders and address both the Council of the Americas and the Inter-American Dialogue think-tank.