The president-elect of Argentina, Javier Milei, explained his economic program to the United States National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, in a meeting of about an hour in the White House’s Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Tuesday. According to the soon-to-be president, he also informed senior U.S. officials that Argentina will be joining the group of “nations that respect freedom.” The meeting was also attended by President Joe Biden’s advisor for Latin America, Juan González, and the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, Brian Nichols.
In a message on social media, accompanied by a photograph with his team of advisors who attended the meeting, the right-wing populist leader described the event as “an excellent meeting.” “We have talked about the economic and social situation in Argentina at the present,” he told the media in brief statements after leaving the White House and shortly before embarking on his return flight to Buenos Aires.
Accompanying him were his sister and right-hand woman, Karina Milei; his future chief of staff, Nicolás Posse; the businessman Gerardo Werthein, a personal friend of Bill Clinton who is rumored to become the next Argentine ambassador in Washington; the former finance secretary and possible economy minister in the new Cabinet, Luis Caputo, and the communication strategist Santiago Caputo. The United States ambassador in Buenos Aires, Mark Stanley, was also present.
During the meeting, Milei “expressed his views on the international geopolitical agenda aligned with the West and his defense of the values of freedom,” said a statement from the president-elect’s office. For his part, Sullivan “expressed the willingness of the United States to collaborate in the transition of the incoming Argentine government in the face of the challenging political, economic and social situation that the country is going through,” according to the Argentine version of the meeting.
Initially, Milei’s Washington agenda also included an appointment with officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), although in the end only his economic advisors attended that meeting. Milei, who defeated the Peronist candidate Sergio Massa in a runoff on November 19, had already held a meeting by videoconference last Friday with the IMF chief, Kristalina Georgieva. Argentina received a $44 billion loan from this organization in 2018, but has been unable to repay it in a timely manner even after renegotiating the conditions.
Before the meeting, the White House had already expressed an interest in hearing from the leader of La Libertad Avanza (Liberty Advances) party what his economic and political governing program will be like. “Argentina is a dynamic partner on this continent for many issues. We’re looking forward to hearing what the president-elect’s ideas are and where he wants to go on policy issues and making sure that we have a chance to keep that channel of communication open,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby had stated on Monday, confirming the meeting.
Milei was also in New York, where he had lunch with Democratic Senator Chris Dodd and former U.S. President Bill Clinton. His first act in the Big Apple was a visit to the grave of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, better known as “the Lubavitch rebbe.” It is a sacred place for Judaism, which Milei had previously visited to ask for his blessing to be elected president of Argentina.
The visit to Washington and New York is the first by the Argentine president-elect after his electoral victory, and it provides a clear indication of what the new government’s foreign policy priorities will be. Milei has insisted throughout his campaign that his main allies will be the United States and Israel. He has also promised to distance himself from China, a major trading partner with whom the Alberto Fernández administration maintained excellent relations. Also unlike his predecessor, Milei has rejected the possibility of Argentina joining the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
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