Obama seeks fresh start with Argentina
President Obama declared a fresh era of partnership between the US and Argentina, saying he stood ready to support President Mauricio Macri in his bid to improve Argentina's economy. Obama is the first American president to hold high-level talks with an Argentine leader in 20 years. Through his visit, he seeks to improve US-Argentine collaboration on defense and security issues, energy and climate change.
Argentina: A Snapshot
Argentina is located in southern South America between Chile and Uruguay, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean. Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. Over 95% of Argentina's population consists of European immigrants of Spanish and Italian descent, while indigenous groups make up roughly 3-5% of the population.
When were ties formally established?
The United States formally recognized the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, the predecessor to Argentina, on 27 January 1823. Argentina was integrated into the British international economy in the late 19th century and at the time, there was minimal trade with the US. When US began promoting pan-Americanism in the 19th century, there was a marked increase in US-Argentine bilateral trade.
Tensions rise during the World Wars
Tensions between the US and Argentina began to rise during World War 1 when Argentina refused to join the Allied Powers, and chose to remain neutral instead. There was a sizeable Nazi presence in the country, controlled by German ambassadors. During World War 2, Argentina remained neutral until the last days of the war, and granted asylum to several Nazi political figures as well.
Argentina refuses to toe US line
In 1976, a coup installed a military dictatorship in Argentina. Argentinean officials refused to observe the grain embargo imposed against the former Soviet Union by the United States in 1980, in an open act of defiance. In 1982, Argentina seized the British territory of the Falkland islands, and the US helped Britain against Argentina in the military campaign to take back the islands.
Democracy in Argentina, gradual improvement of relations
In 1983, democracy was once again brought to Argentina and US-Argentine ties began to improve. In the 1980s, Argentina became a source for transferring arms to the Contras, who overthrew the Nicaraguan government in 1979. Ties began improving further in 1989, and several scholarships and financial aid packages to Argentina were announced. Cooperation in science, technology and improving tourism is also on the cards.
New era for US-Argentina relations
"Under President Macri, Argentina is reassuming its traditional leadership role in the region and around the world. On a range of areas, we discussed the way in which the United States and Argentina can be strong global partners." - Barack Obama, US President.