Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is preparing for an agenda of international meetings, both at home and overseas, with the purpose of fulfilling her electoral promise that global relations will be paramount for her administration, reports the Buenos Aires press.
Early March Mrs. Kirchner travels to the Dominican Republic for a two day summit of the Rio Group with most Latinamerican presidents, where she has private meetings scheduled with Chile's Michelle Bachelet, Brazil's Lula da Silva as well as with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Ecuador's Rafael Correa and Mexico's Felipe Calderón. Although her husband former president Nestor Kirchner shunned the Rio Group meetings even one hosted by Lula da Silva in Brazil, the group formed in 1986 has helped to promote political dialogue and peace in Latinamerica and the Caribbean. The group has been relatively successful in achieving peace and understanding in several Central American conflicts. But before traveling to Santo Domingo the Argentine president will host Lula da Silva to underline the importance of the strategic alliance and integration with Brazil and the personal rapport between Lula da Silva and the Kirchner family. In April Mrs. Kirchner has been invited to London by PM Gordon Brown, as chairman of the Labor Party, to the Progressive leaders' forum to discuss social inclusion in a globalized world, an issue very dear to the current Argentine president. She will certainly talk about her experience from 2003 onwards when her husband was elected president following the melting of the Argentine economy. The Falkland Islands is an issue that will also be on the table during private discussions with PM Brown anticipates the Argentine press. Malvinas/Falklands is top of the bilateral agenda with the UK insist sources close to Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Taiana. At the end of April Mrs. Kirchner will be hosting a meeting in Buenos Aires with the participation of Spanish women politicians. In May the Argentine president travels to Lima, Peru that is hosting the European Union/Latinamerica Caribbean summit, where leaders from the two continents regularly meet to address political, trade and cooperation issues. The summit is particularly significant since Argentina will be holding the pro tempore presidency of the group. The previous meeting held in Vienna became famous when an Argentine picket scantly covered in a bikini held a banner protesting the construction of the Botnia pulp mill in Uruguay in the midst of the photo session of the leaders. But probably the most important scenario will be the rebuilding of deteriorated bilateral relations with United States. With only a few days in office Mrs. Kirchner was surprised by the implications of an incident dating back to last August under her husband's administration and which is now before a Miami court. A US federal judge is looking into the case of money smuggling from Venezuela into Argentina to allegedly finance Mrs. Kirchner successful presidential campaign and which was interpreted as a direct attack on her administration in an attempt to condition her. A US/Venezuelan citizen Antonini Wilson flying in a jet chartered by an Argentine government corporation was caught by Buenos Aires customs with a suitcase containing 800.000 US dollars which were confiscated. Antonini Wilson left Argentina undisturbed, via Uruguay and back in Miami he was approached by several alleged Venezuelan agents who suggested he should not say a word about the incident or the money. Antonini Wilson is now under court protection as a privileged witness and the agents face charges of illegal activities in the US. Miami press court leaks indicate the money was from the Venezuelan oil corporation PVDSA to help finance Mrs Kirchner's campaign. Furious at the allegations and believing the US State Department was behind the "plot", Mrs. Kirchner limited US ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne contacts in Argentina to the Foreign Affairs ministry. However the Miami court case is months away and is not centered in the suitcase with the stashed money, and both sides have begun sending positive signals. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner invited ambassador Wayne for a friendly chat in Casa Rosada, two of her closest aides, cabinet chief Alberto Fernandez and Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Taiana are scheduled to travel to Washington, while Under Secretary for the Hemisphere, Tom Shannon considered a good friend of Argentina and the Kirchners is expected to formalize his delayed visit in the coming weeks.