President Obama Arrives In Argentina On A Two-Day Visit

obama-family-in-argentina-afp_650x400_71458720816KABUL: (MEP) US President Barack Obama has landed in Argentina on Wednesday to strengthen the two nations’ diplomatic and trade relations.

Obama, the first lady and their two daughters arrived around 1 a.m. GMT (12 a.m. ET) in the capital, which has beefed up its security presence since the terrorist attacks that shook Brussels Tuesday morning. Authorities had shut down several streets and subway stops by midnight. Helicopters were seen flying in the sky, according to the national newspaper, Clarin.

Obama’s two-day visit marks a rapprochement after years of sour relations and is a sign of support for Macri’s investor-friendly reforms aimed at opening up Latin America’s third biggest economy.

The U.S. leader will hold talks with Macri ahead of a joint press conference. He will also lay a wreath at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral, where Pope Francis has celebrated Mass, and meet young entrepreneurs before attending a state dinner.

Thousands of people plan to protest Obama’s appearance on March 24, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of a 1976 right-wing coup that had the tacit support of the United States.

The United States initially backed the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. Some 30,000 people were killed in a bloody crackdown against leftist opponents and labor unions.

President Macri took office in December last year vowing to restore relations with the US, a task that could prove difficult as half of the population did not vote for him.

In his first 100 days in office, Macri lifted capital and trade controls, slashed bloated power subsidies and cut a debt deal with “holdout” creditors in the United States. U.S. officials say Obama has been impressed by the pace of reform.

Yet Macri still has to grapple with double-digit inflation, a yawning fiscal deficit and a shortage of hard currency.

“I think that the gesture of President Obama’s visit is very important for us because it shows the interest and the priority of the U.S. administration,” Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra said in a press conference Monday.

 

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