“We’ve decided to put relations between Argentina and Brazil back on track,” said Alberto Fernández in a press conference after meeting with Lula da Silva in the Itamaraty Palace, in Brasília. “They’ve been complicated for the past four years, but we hope we’ll advance in all the topics we’ve covered today,” he added, referring to frosty neighborly relations during the presidency of outgoing far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro.
Alberto Fernández and Luis Inácio Lula da Silva met privately for an hour today, accompanied by their foreign ministers, in what became their first official bilateral meeting.
Lula plans to visit Argentina on January 23, his first trip abroad, as he did at the start of his previous terms in office. This practice was halted when Bolsonaro made his first official visit to Chile’s erstwhile conservative president Sebastían Piñera in 2019.
Aside from bilateral meetings with the Fernández administration, Lula will attend the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit in a bid to regenerate his country’s relations with its Latin American neighbors. After the pair’s meeting, Fernández expressed his interest in boosting the organization. “CELAC has not had the institutional relevance that it deserves,” he said.
In their meeting, Da Silva and Fernández continued conversations their Economy Ministers had started a few days ago around the creation of Sur, a regional currency that other South American countries could gradually join without having to eliminate their national currencies.
The Argentine government also expects to form an agreement to buy pipes from Brazil to build the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline. Both projects would help tackle two of Argentina’s biggest financial challenges in 2023: the scarcity of foreign currency reserves and the need to reduce dependence on gas imports from other countries.
The gas pipeline, which the government says will be operational by winter 2023, will send gas from Vaca Muerta to provinces across the country.
After the meeting, Lula da Silva tweeted “I met with my friend, who congratulated me for the inauguration, and I congratulated him for the World Cup win. We reopened dialogue and friendship with our biggest neighbor and one of Brazil’s main partners in the world.”
During the press conference, Fernández said that more information on Argentina’s scheduled agreements with Brazil would be announced on January 23, during Lula’s state visit.