Argentine President Starts Tour In Search Of Allies To Negotiate Debt Payment

The president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, begins on Wednesday a European tour whose first stop will be the Vatican, to meet with Pope Francis, and that will also take him to Italy, Germany, Spain and France, where he will hold meetings with his peers in search of support for the negotiation of debt payment with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). THE DETAILED AGENDA As confirmed by Efe official sources, the president, who assumed power last December after defeating the former president, Mauricio Macri (2015-2019), in the middle of the economic crisis, will depart tonight for Rome and he will be received on Friday morning by his compatriot Francisco in the Library of the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican. The last time the Peronist leader visited the pontiff was in August 2018, when the now president, who had been head of the Cabinet of the Governments of Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007) and Cristina Fernández (2007-2015) -today vice president- he did not hold any political office nor was his presidential candidacy foreseen. Already in the afternoon, Fernández will meet with the Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, and the president, Sergio Matarella. The state news agency Télam added that the president will close the day with a meeting with relatives of disappeared detainees in the last Argentine dictatorship (1976-1983) and on Saturday he will visit the headquarters of the United Nations Office for Food and Agriculture ( FAO). On Sunday, Fernandez will travel to Berlin to hold a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday; while on Tuesday, already in Madrid, he will meet with King Felipe of Spain and later with the president of the Government of that country, the socialist Pedro Sánchez. With Sanchez, the Peronist already met last September, still as a candidate, and he said they had "similar visions about the public." The final chapter of the tour will take place in Paris, a city where on Wednesday he will have lunch with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, with whom he met last week in Israel during the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, which was Fernández’s first trip abroad as president. In his absence, and as happened from January 21 to 25 by the trip of the head of state to Jerusalem, Cristina Fernández, as vice president, will hold the temporary presidency within the Argentine territory. THE NEGOTIATION OF THE DEBT, CENTRAL TOPIC The negotiation of the debt that Argentina contracted with the IMF, which amounts to 56.3 billion dollars, will foreseeably be at the center of the conversations that the Argentine president has with his peers. The country's foreign minister, Felipe Solá, acknowledged last Sunday in an interview on Radio 10 that one of the reasons for the tour was "to know what they think of the country and why Argentina is in a complex negotiation, fundamental for its future, and all of them they have a chair at the IMF. " It is not the only international visit made by the Argentine Government for these purposes, since the Minister of Economy, Martin Guzman, has been in New York since Monday meeting with US Treasury officials and the IMF. At the end of a meeting held yesterday with officials of the Fund, official sources assured Efe that it was "very productive" and that it will be repeated next week in an economic forum held in the Vatican, in which the IMF managing director will also participate, Kristalina Georgieva. Germany is the most important visit in the organization, since it controls 5.32% of the votes of the Executive Board of the institution, followed by France, which has 4.03% of the total voting power. The Board of Directors is made up of 24 members who are elected by several sets of countries or individual countries and are the ones who make decisions about the management of the Fund.