Obama lands in Argentina for two-day stay

  • 23/03/2016
US President Barack Obama arrives in Buenos Aires (Reuters)
US President Barack Obama arrives in Buenos Aires (Reuters)

US President Barack Obama has arrived in Argentina to reset diplomatic relations and strengthen trade ties with a country that was part of South America's left-wing bloc until pro-business President Mauricio Macri took power in December.

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.

Obama and his family landed in Buenos Aires and were met by Argentina's foreign minister, Susana Malcorra, before being whisked away to the US ambassador's residence.

The US 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.

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. US 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.

Luring foreign investors is a cornerstone of his strategy to revive the spluttering economy, and Obama arrives with a large business delegation in tow.

Left-wing political parties have promised protests during Obama's visit, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the coup on March 24, 1976 that installed the "dirty war" military junta.

Some are wary of too warm a detente with Washington, an early supporter of the bloody 1976-1983 dictatorship.