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US Treasury, White House top brass signal Argentina support with early visits - sources

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US Treasury, White House top brass signal Argentina support with early visits - sources
Reuters
Jorgelina do Rosario and Andrea Shalal
December 12, 2023

By Jorgelina do Rosario and Andrea Shalal

BUENOS AIRES/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior U.S. officials from the National Security Council and the Treasury will visit Argentina later this week, an important sign of support just days after libertarian President Javier Milei took office, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Deputy National Security Adviser Mike Pyle will be in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, according to three sources who asked not to be named because the travel agenda is still not public.

The U.S. Treasury's top international official, Jay Shambaugh, is set to head to Buenos Aires late this week, two of the previous sources and one further source said, with one adding he would look to meet with lithium firms. Treasury official Michael Kaplan is also expected to travel to Argentina, two sources said.

The plans have not been previously reported. Such high-profile U.S. visits are unusual so early in Milei's fledgling administration, which faces a huge challenge to defuse the country's worst economic crisis in decades.

Last month, Milei met with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Washington. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm led a delegation to Buenos Aires for his inauguration last Sunday.

"It fits into a string of ongoing senior bilateral engagements," one of the sources said.

"We want to show that we're here to support this government," NSC Western Hemisphere senior director Juan Gonzalez told Reuters during an interview in Buenos Aires ahead of the inauguration. He declined to confirm the other visits.

Both Shambaugh and Kaplan met Milei's Economy Minister Luis Caputo and cabinet chief Nicolas Posse in Washington in late November. Milei, a political outsider who rode a wave of anti-establishment anger at high inflation and rising poverty, took a pro-U.S. and pro-Israel stance during his election campaign.

Argentina is major exporter of grains, the fourth largest producer of electric battery metal lithium, and has huge shale oil and gas reserves in its Vaca Muerta formation. It also has a wobbling $44 billion program with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).

(Reporting by Jorgelina do Rosario and Andrea Shalal, editing by Adam Jourdan and David Gregorio)

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