US President Joseph Biden's envoy Christopher Dodd arrived in Buenos Aires to talk Alberto Fernández into attending next month's Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, a gathering many leaders intend to boycott following the host's decision not to invite the non-democratically ruled Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela.
Fernández has already spoken about excluding no one from the regional forum but is yet to announce his own stance regarding his presence (or not) at the event.
Biden wants the participation of as many Latin American leaders as possible and to that end, Dodd met with Fernández Thursday afternoon at Casa Rosada for two and a half hours. Argentina's Cabinet Chief Juan Manzur and Secretary of Strategic Affairs Gustavo Beliz were present.
Argentina will work for the success of the Summit, with everyone included, said Fernandez, although he did not confirm his presence.
During her usual briefing to the press each Thursday, Presidential Spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti insisted Fernández seeks the Summit of the Americas is without exclusions.
Fernández, who this year is also pro-tempore President of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), told Dodd that the United States has had a difficult policy under Donald Trump and not much has changed with the new administration regarding Latin America and added that he felt ashamed that there is a 48-year blockade of Cuba and a 10-year blockade of Venezuela and that it has not changed during the pandemic.
The Argentine government has maintained this approach, which Fernández conveyed to French President Emmanuel Macron during their meeting in Paris earlier this month.
Casa Rosada also pointed out Fernández is permanently in touch with the presidents of Chile (Gabriel Boric Font), Mexico (Andrés Manuel López Obrador, AMLO), Bolivia (Luis Arce Catacora) and Peru (Pedro Castillo Terrones).
Fernández also conveyed to Dodd his view to open up all debates at the Summit and not just focus on the health crisis. The US envoy reportedly took these considerations into account and conversations will continue over the next few days.
The Argentine Government considered that Dodd's trip meant the Biden administration was interested in Fernández's presence at the Summit, particularly in his role of Celac chief.
President Biden asked me, in my role as White House special advisor to the Summit of the Americas, to meet with leaders from across the region, including Argentina, to collaborate on our positive agenda for the summit, Dodd explained.
In my meetings today with President Alberto Fernandez and Secretary of Strategic Affairs Gustavo Beliz, I emphasized the strength of the US relationship with Argentina, built on our shared commitment to democracy, human rights, and economic prosperity, he added.
I reiterated our hope that Argentina will be an active participant in the summit, which is especially important given its role as a regional leader, he went on.
The Summit of the Americas will focus on some of the most vital issues we share across the hemisphere, Biden's envoy elaborated. These issues include ensuring effective democracy in all countries; strategizing on ways to meet our shared climate goals; working on a strong and collaborative response to COVID-19; and addressing economic instability and human rights.
Argentina is a leading voice in these areas and will have much to contribute to these discussions at the summit, which will help improve the lives of people throughout our hemisphere, Dodd also pointed out.
Dodd has already met with Presidents Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Gabriel Boric of Chile, who confirmed their presence at the California event, while Fernández has replied positively about attending the upcoming G7 Summit in Germany.
In addition to AMLO, Presidents Xiomara Castro of Honduras, Luis Arce of Bolivia, and Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala have confirmed they would decline Biden's invitation.
Summit Coordinator Kevin O'Reilly has confirmed at a Senate hearing that Venezuela and Nicaragua will not be invited. We do not recognize them as sovereign governments, he explained.