President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner met for 30 minutes with US President Barack Obama to discuss trade, the Falklands/Malvinas, and the state of bilateral relations between Argentina and the United States during last week’s Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.
“It was a half-hour meeting, excellent, in which we talked of many things and reaffirmed that beyond our differences is the relationship between the two countries,” President Fernández said today following her announcement of the plan to expropriate oil company YPF.
Among the outstanding issues between Argentina and the US are differences in trade. Last month, the US dropped Argentina from its preferential trade network after Argentina failed to pay court-ordered damages in excess of $300 million to two US companies.
The complaint comes in the context of global criticism of Argentina’s cumbersome import scheme, which several countries raised at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
President Obama made clear that there were no specific trade demands on Argentina and that the discussions were for the public record.
On the issue of the Falklands/Malvinas, despite further appeals for support of Argentina’s cause, President Obama maintained US neutrality.
“Our position is that we will continue to be neutral,” Obama said. “We have good relations with Argentina and Britain and hope to be able to continue a dialogue on this subject, but it is not something we would usually intervene.”
Argentina’s foreign minister Héctor Timerman characterised the talks as productive, noting the desire among both countries to remain “good friends and partners.” Foreign Ambassador Jorge Argüello went further, describing the healthy working relationship between the countries despite challenges.
“The two presidents will work with the aim of optimising a relationship that, like all others, is good at times and no so good at other times, according to circumstances.”