The leaders of Argentina and Chile have moved to defuse a recent diplomatic spat after officials in Santiago accused President Alberto Fernandez of “meddling” in Chile's internal affairs after he met with Chilean opposition leaders.
Centre-left Peronist Fernandez and conservative Sebastian Piñera held a call on Monday, saying the neighboring countries would unite to face what they called the dual enemies of the coronavirus pandemic and economic recession.
Beyond any difference, we must unite in these tough times that we are going through with the pandemic, the Argentine presidential office reported the two as saying in a statement.
Chile's Foreign Ministry said on Sunday it was astonished by comments made by Fernandez, who met with Chilean opposition leaders, encouraging them to overcome their differences and return to power on behalf of Chileans.
Chile and Argentina, separated geographically by South America's Andes Mountains, are long-time rivals and have often been at odds politically. Piñera, a billionaire businessman, faced months of protests over inequality late last year.
On the 45-minute call, Fernandez told Piñera it was essential to support integration around Latin American, with those two enemies that are common to the entire continent. He added he hoped to embrace all Chileans in a hug.
Let's maintain our good relationship, which is essential, Piñera replied, according to the Argentine statement.
Fernandez last Friday met by video conference with members of the progressive Puebla Group, founded by leftists like Mexico's Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, Ecuador´s Rafael Correa, Brazil´s Lula da Silva and Uruguay's Jose Mujica, among others.
In the meeting, organized by Chile´s opposition, Fernandez encouraged the country´s left-leaning parties to “overcome their differences and return to power on behalf of Chileans,” according to media reports posted on the Puebla Group´s website.
He told the group, which included leaders of Chile´s influential Socialist, Communist and Christian Democratic parties, that he was “happy with what he was seeing in Chile,” the media reports said.
Chile´s foreign ministry rebuked Fernandez´s comments in a statement on Sunday, saying they “do not contribute to advancing a bilateral agenda that has been fruitful and which has been developed by diverse governments in both countries.”