Javier Milei, the new president of Argentina, is set to visit the White House on Tuesday to wrap up his whirlwind tour of the United States this week, although President Joe Biden won’t be there.
Milei, an outsider at the helm of a populist libertarian movement that toppled both the establishment center-right and the ruling socialist coalition in the November 19 presidential election, will instead have a meeting with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
On Monday, Milei landed in New Jersey and headed to New York for a spiritual visit to the Ohel, a sacred Jewish site housing the burial place of the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
Afterward, he had a lunch meeting with Christopher Dodd, Biden’s Latin America adviser, and former President Bill Clinton.
Political analysts in Argentina view Milei’s meeting with Dodd and Clinton as a friendly gesture towards Biden, despite Milei having previously criticized him as a “threat to Western values.”
In an August interview, Milei labeled Biden as a “left-wing” president, citing left-wing values such as “envy, hatred, resentment, unequal treatment before the law, theft, and murder.”
It took Biden three days to reach out to Milei and extend congratulations on his election victory, despite Milei’s opponent, Sergio Massa, conceding before the results were publicly disclosed.
In a phone call, the White House conveyed that Biden and Milei “discussed the importance of continuing to build on the strong relationship between the United States and Argentina on economic issues, on regional and multilateral cooperation, and on shared priorities.”
In a Monday briefing, John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Relations, stated that despite the Argentine president-elect being present at the White House, Biden would not meet with Milei due to prearranged travel plans.
“President-elect Milei will be coming to Washington, D.C., largely to meet with the IMF over — and the World Bank — over — over their fiscal and economic issues,” Kirby told reporters.
“But while he’s here in town, he’ll have a chance to meet with some National Security Council folks, including Jake Sullivan,” he added.
“No plans to meet with the President. The President will, as I think you know, will be on travel in the middle of the week,” Kirby noted.
Biden is expected in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday to attend the funeral of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.
“The President won’t, unfortunately, be able to meet with him because of domestic travel. But obviously, we want to continue to look for ways to cooperate with Argentina,” Kirby said, answering a second question on Milei’s visit and reframing Biden’s absence as not an intentional snub.
“Argentina is a — a healthy and vibrant partner in this hemisphere on many, many issues. And so, we’re looking forward to obviously 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 line of channel — that channel of communication open.”
Initially, it was anticipated that Milei would have multiple meetings in Washington, including visits to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), given Argentina’s significant debt to the organization, as well as visits to the State Department and Treasury.
However, as reported by the Argentine newspaper Clarín, Milei is set to return to Buenos Aires after his meeting with Sullivan at the White House.
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