President Alberto Fernández will begin a high-level tour of Russia, China and Barbados next Tuesday, with the Argentine leader’s meetings with world leaders likely to be watched closely by domestic and foreign observers.
Details of the president’s trip, which will focus on trade and international cooperation, began to emerge last week. Fernández plans to leave Buenos Aires late Tuesday, February 1, for a long flight to Moscow, arriving the next day. The Peronist leader will then meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Russian capital on February 3 for lunch, followed by a joint press conference with some media.
The following day, the Argentine leader will be in Beijing, where the highlight of his three days in China will be a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping on February 6 at 11 a.m., during which the duo will mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations. between the two nations, which began on February 19, 1972.
The tour of the two nations, a well-known secret in diplomatic circles, was confirmed by government spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti.
In addition, government sources confirmed this week that the President will also make a two-day stopover in newly independent Barbados, where he will meet Prime Minister Mia Mottley for talks on the climate crisis and issues related to CELAC, l Latin America and the Caribbean. organization chaired this year by Argentina. The president will arrive on the island on February 7 and will likely leave the next day.
State news agency Telam reported this week that the delegation accompanying the president will be a “reduced” group due to Covid health restrictions. For this reason, no journalists will travel with the president, unlike previous tours.
Accompanying the president will be Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero, Strategic Affairs Secretary Gustavo Beliz, Buenos Aires Provincial Governor Axel Kicillof and Mayor José C. Paz Mario Ishii.
The meeting with Putin in Moscow comes at a time of rising tensions in Eastern Europe. Moscow has amassed tens of thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine, and the United States and other Western powers have warned Russia of swift and severe consequences if it invades Ukraine.
Fernández’s planned lunch with Putin will be the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders. In a phone conversation last November, the two leaders agreed to try to arrange a visit as soon as the pandemic allows. On this occasion, the duo spoke about bilateral relations and the “cooperation between the two nations” amid the coronavirus pandemic. Argentina was one of the first countries in the world to adopt the use of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine and now produces a local version of the vaccine.
Cerruti told reporters the two will “discuss collaboration on vaccines, investments, science and other issues of common interest” when they meet next.
Although Fernández and Putin had planned to meet at the G20 leaders’ summit in Rome, the Russian leader announced 11 days before the summit that he would participate via video conference, postponing those plans.
Activities in China
The initial purpose of the trip, Fernández’s visit to China, will coincide with the inauguration of the 2022 Winter Olympics, which the Peronist leader is due to attend, despite the US government’s call for a diplomatic boycott over violations human rights.
In addition to the opening ceremony, the Argentine president will also attend a meeting with heads of state with his bilateral meeting with Xi Jinping scheduled for February 5, before a one-on-one with the Chinese premier the following day. .
While in China, Fernández will also visit Argentine Olympic athletes, visit the Great Wall of China and visit a museum dedicated to the history of the Chinese Communist Party, according to reports.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian confirmed the president’s visit and meeting with Xi, saying “China and Argentina are good friends who trust each other and good partners for development. commmon”.
Speaking to China Central Television’s Spanish-language channel CGTN this week, Fernández said Argentina and the Asian giant have “a great opportunity to strengthen ties and joint business projects and to be able to continue moving forward in a more socially equitable development”. ”
“China has been an important player in Argentina’s foreign trade for all these years,” he added.
Speaking late last year, Cafiero said the talks would focus on trade issues, particularly talks regarding exports and imports.
Argentina wants to strengthen its presence in China and Fernández would like to improve the country’s trade balance.