Joe Biden's envoys to Argentina confirmed the positive moment in their relationship with Alberto Fernandez's government, although they revealed that their main concern is still China's advancements in the region, and said they targeted specific key Beijing projects such as the Atucha III nuclear power plant and Huawei's development
Alberto had an unusual lunch on Tuesday with the Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere, Juan GonzĂˇlez, and the Acting Assistant Secretary of the State Department for Western Hemisphere affairs, Julie Chung. Because the president is isolated, they were located in separate offices at the Quinta de Olivos and spoke through videoconference.
But contacts with the top government officials continued. In the evening, Gonzalez and Chung dined at Sergio Massa's home, and added the subject on China to the discussion, repeating the theme that had been covered during lunch. As LPO revealed, the central theme of the tour was to try to regain grounds in the face of Beijing's advancements in the region.
Biden officials called on the Argentine government to maintain "caution" in the relationship with China, which in addition to the advantages it had been gaining over the US over the past decade, it has also taken advantage of the pandemic to strengthen relations in the region through the provision of medical supplies last year and vaccines, now.
In addition to asking for caution, Gonzalez and Chung told Massa that they are especially concerned in Washington about the project for the construction of the Atucha III nuclear power plant, with technology and financing from China. Last week, energy secretary Dario MartĂnez and Ambassador Sabino Vaca Narvaja made progress in efforts to close an agreement.
Another issue that troubles the White House is the implementation of the 5G network powered by Chinese company Huawei in the region. The 5G dispute is the field where one of the main geopolitical battles between the United States and China is fought. Biden holds Donald Trump's tough position.
Among chorizo steaks, empanadas, gizzards and the entrails of a dinner that lasted almost four hours, Biden's envoys promised Massa to assist Argentina in negotiating with the IMF and also to try to unblock the arrival of vaccines.
Another subject on the table was Venezuela. All visitors talked about pushing for "clean elections" to find a way out of the crisis. The White House has a positive view on Alberto's profile in the region and sees him employing greater leadership in the Southern Cone.
Officials in Washington are talking about assembling a team of presidents to lead the relationship with Latin America, in the face of the breakdown of the relationship with Brazil, its historic partner in the region. In addition to Alberto in the Southern Cone, the presidents of Mexico and Colombia stand out. In that scenario, they also highlight the pragmatic turn of hard core Kirchnerism and do not view Cristina as an issue.
The Tigre Dinner also had colorful moments, such as a story that GonzĂˇlez told about his father's link with Colombia's M19 guerrilla movement, to which Malena Galmarini mentioned her father's militancy in Montoneros.
Another moment that generated a bit of awkward laughter was when Julie Chung was surprised and even outraged when Massa told her that he had not yet been vaccinated. The American servant could not believe why a figure in the line of presidential succession had not yet been inoculated. She probably wasn't aware of the "VIP vaccination" scandal.
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