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Spanish PM offers 'absolute and total' support for Argentina's debt talks

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez offers “absolute and total” support to the Argentine government’s bid to renegotiate debt with IMF and Paris Club during one-day visit to Buenos Aires.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Wednesday offered his “absolute and total” support to the Argentine government’s bid to renegotiate the country’s debt with the International Monetary Fund and Paris Club group of creditors.

Speaking during a one-day visit to Buenos Aires, Sánchez backed President Alberto Fernández’s bid to delay key repayments due this year and said nations like Argentina needed “an injection of public resources” to spark economic recovery.

"Clearly Spain will always be on the side of Argentina in its conversations with the International Monetary Fund and with the Paris Club – the support is absolute and total," said the Spanish leader, speaking at the Museo del Bicentario as he attended a business forum with entrepreneurs from both nations.

"I want to tell the president that you will have our full support, so that from the multilateral point of view, we can give a response to developing countries," he added.

Sánchez arrived in the capital on Tuesday night for a 24-hour official visit with members of his government and business leaders, with both nations seeking to advance strategic relations.

The visit comes with Argentina experiencing its worst moment of the coronavirus pandemic to date. Since March 2020, more than four million Covid-19 infections have been recorded along with 82,000 deaths.

At the same time, the Fernández administration is also seeking to renegotiate a new financing programme with the IMF for its US$44-billion debt. Argentina also faces an overdue payment with the Paris Club, worth around US$2.5 billion.

Sánchez promised to provide multilateral “support and intelligence” to his hosts in order to “provide answers for the recovery.” He referenced an “injection of public resources for countries like Argentina and the Latin American region.”

To that end, the Spanish leader argued that "the best economic policy is to accelerate the vaccination process in our societies."

Highlighting the inequality of vaccination among countries worldwide, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party leader called on labs and governments to "transfer technology and knowledge, increase production capacity and accelerate the distribution" of vaccines to less well-off nations.

Warming to this theme, Fernández called in his own speech for "the global socialisation” of Covid-19 vaccines, “so that all peoples have the possibility of access” to jabs. 

Thanking his Spanish counterpart for the support and underlining the close ties between the two heads of state, the Peronist leader said that Madrid had always been “on our side, accompanying us and attending to our claims on the issue of debt.”

Both leaders shared “a very similar view of the world,” he added.

Last month, Fernández embarked on a European tour, taking in Spain, Portugal, France and Italy as he sought to drum up support for Argentina’s debt restructuring talks. 

Agreement(s)

Both leaders signed a host of agreements on Wednesday, including a joint statement on gender issues and another that guaranteed the upcoming exchange of diplomatic files referring to the brutal 1976-1983 military dictatorship that ruled Argentina, the Casa Rosada said in a statement.

As part of his short but packed schedule in Argentina, Sánchez also visited the ex-ESMA Navy Mechanics School, which was home to the largest clandestine detention centre during those dark years. According to estimates from human rights groups, some 30,000 individuals were disappeared at the hands of the military junta. 

"We are two societies that have suffered the barbarism of dictatorships and democratic memory is something that we have to exercise daily," Sánchez said at a joint press conference outside the Casa Rosada, referring to the reign of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, who ruled the country from 1936 to 1975.

The prime minister also paid tribute to citizens who were disappeared during the dictatorship era during a ceremony at Spain’s Embassy in Argentina. He also met with members of the Spanish community in Argentina, which is estimated to include some 500,000 individuals.

Wednesday’s meeting was the first time Fernández had hosted a head of state at the Casa Rosada since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

– TIMES/AFP/PERFIL

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