Argentine President Alberto Fernández Friday welcomed his Uruguayan colleague Luis Lacalle Pou over for dinner at the Olivos Residence in an attempt to restore relations between the two of them following a crash during a Mercosur Summit earlier this year.
The meeting was reportedly aimed at leaving behind a confrontation between both leaders during a Mercosur virtual Summit when Lacalle spoke in favor of the bloc allowing members to seek one-sided trade agreements with other countries or groups of countries and stopped being a “burden,” which angered Fernández, who continues to oppose the move.
The encounter took place at a time Fernández's popularity is at an all-time-low after a picture was leaked showing a family celebration of First Lady Fabiola Yáñez's birthday on July 14, 2020, in violation of the quarantine he had imposed on the rest of the population.
Nevertheless, Yáñez was also present at the bilateral dinner Friday, which was a reciprocation of a barbecue party Lacalle had offered Fernandez in Colonia on November 19, 2020.
Friday's dinner was held under the open agenda format, according to Casa Rosada sources.
After landing in Buenos Aires before noon together with Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo, Lacalle visited the Uruguayan Embassy alongside current Ambassador Carlos Enciso.
Bustillo, a former Ambassador to Buenos Aires himself, had brokered this dinner when he met Fernández and Argentine Foreign Minister Felipe Solá in Lima on the occasion of the inauguration of Peru's President Pedro Castillo.
During the last Mercosur summit, Uruguay made it official that it will seek extra-zone trade agreements, following the path of flexibility advocated by Lacalle Pou and Jair Bolsonaro.
Brazil has proposed a substantial reduction to the Common External Tariff (CET), while Argentina agrees to increasing openness but in a controlled manner, and is committed to maintaining the protection of sectors such as textiles and the automotive industry.