Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Obama: 'Macri moved rapidly to reconnect Argentina with the global economy'
US President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Argentinian President Mauricio Macri at the Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires City.
President Mauricio Macri and his US counterpart Barack Obama today held a joint press conference at the Pink House after a meeting earlier as part of a two-day visit to Argentina that marks a rapprochement in relations.Obama praised Macri for the swift pace of reforms to create a stronger economy and said Washington was ready to work more closely with Argentina after years of tension.
"I'm impressed because he has moved rapidly on so many of the reforms that he promised, to create more sustainable and inclusive economic growth, to reconnect Argentina with the global economy and the world community," Obama said.
Describing Argentina as one of the most powerful countries in the Western hemisphere, Obama said it was a critical partner as the United States seeks to "promote prosperity and peace and opportunity in the region as a whole."
Earlier thousands of people cheered Obama's motorcade as it made its way along Buenos Aires' tree-lined boulevards, handing the US leader a friendlier reception than his predecessor George W. Bush, whose presence at a Summit of the Americas in 2005 was met with protests and snubbed by then President Nestor Kirchner.Obama arrived late last night in Buenos Aires from his historic visit to Cuba, kicking off a two-day visit to Argentina that includes bilateral meetings with PresidentMacri at the Pink House, civil society, business leaders and young entrepreneurs and a tribute to the victims of the last military dictatorship at Memorial Park.
Just as in Cuba, his family will also be travelling to Argentina with him along with a delegation including high-ranking officials, business leaders and members of the Congress.
The last US president to travel to Argentina was former president George Bush for the 2005 Summit of the Americas that failed to approve the highly-contested Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Former president Néstor Kirchner, host of the summit, was involved in the protests against the FTAA — tarnishing the relationship between Buenos Aires and Washington.Once the press conference has wrapped the president will head to the Buenos Aires Cathedral to lay a wreath in tribute to General José de San Martín at around 2pm, before heading to the City nieghbourhood of La Boca to participate in a townhall-style meeting with young entrepreneurs and students. The highly-anticipated meeting will take place in La Usina del Arte which can accommodate roughly 1,000 people and is scheduled to commence at 4pm.
Separately, First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver remarks to young women in the nearby neighbourhood of Barracas on the importance of education and the need to take action to help girls worldwide attend school.
Throughout the day the United States Chamber of Commerce in Argentina (AmCham) will be hosting a conference at the Argentina Rural Society’s (SRA) Palermo fairgrounds. Obama’s presence at the AmCham has not been confirmed but should he elect to to attend he will have a short turnaround as he is the guest of honour at a gala dinner to be offered by Macri at the Kirchner Cultural Centre (CCK) that will begin at 8pm. Leaders of the opposition — excluding high-profile Kirchnerite figures — have been invited to attend.
Tomorrow morning, Obama will go to Memorial Park alongside Macri to pay tribute to the victims of the 1976-1983 dictatorship — the visit coincides 40th anniversary of the coup d’état that brought about the last military dictatorship. Obama’s presence at the memorial has stirred controversy among rights groups with the Madres de Plaza de Mayo and HIJOS both confirming that they will not attend. At press time the head of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Estela Barnes de Carlotto was not expected to attend. US Embassy officials had told the Grandmothers that there would be no time for Barnes de Carlotto and Obama to meet personally.
The US president will then fly to Bariloche for a few hours of relaxation before briefly returning to Buenos Aires on the way back to Washington. — Herald staff