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ECONOMY | 24-02-2020 15:48

Guzmán flies to United States after meeting US Treasury chief

Economy Minister Martín Guzmán held a "productive" meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on the sidelines of the G20 summit of finance ministers in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Economy Minister Martín Guzmán held a "productive" meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on the sidelines of the G20 summit of finance ministers in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Both posted on Twitter afterwards that the meeting in Riyadh, which takes place with Argentina seeking to dramatically restructure the country's heavy debt burden with bondholders and the International Monetary Fund, had gone well.

"Productive first discussion with Argentinian Finance Minister Martin Guzman," said the US official, adding that they had "discussed his government’s plans to implement economic policies."

For his part, Guzmán thanked Mnuchin for the meeting, adding that "it is also encouraging to find coincidences."

Also in attendance were the US Treasury's Undersecretary for International Affairs Brent McIntosh and Argentina's representative to the Monetary Fund, Sergio Chodos.

Guzmán is now travelling to the United States, two days of talks in Washington and New York. On Monday, the minister will meet with IMF technical staff. Meetings with Argentina's creditors are also planned.

The meeting with Mnuchin came just a day after Guzmán met IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva. Last week, an IMF mission team concluded that Argentina's debt is "unsustainable" after spending seven days in Buenos Aires.

President Alberto Fernández hopes to renegotiate US$195 billion of its US$311 billion foreign debt, including a deeply unpopular US$57 billion IMF bailout loan in 2018.

The Peronist leader, who took office in December, has refused the final US$13 billion disbursement of the loan, leaving Argentina's exposure  with the Fund at US$44 billion.

The United States' support for Argentina is crucial at this time – Washington holds 16.5 percent of the voting power on the IMF's board.

While in Saudi Arabia, Guzmán meet with officials from Mexico, Canada. Germany, France and other nations. On Saturday, speaking to G20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs, he asked nations for their "cooperation" in order to ensure Argentina's debt load was "sustainable."

US President Donald Trump expressed his support for President Fernández earlier this month.

"Tell President [Alberto] Fernández to remain calm, that he can count on this president," he told Argentina's Ambassador to Washington, Jorge Argüello, after meeting with the diplomat at the White House.

– TIMES/NA/AFP

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