Argentina’s President Elect Tells Brazilians: ‘We Want Results’

Argentina's Cristina Kirchner with Brazil's Lula in BrasÀ­lia Stating that it had been a most "fruitful and successful" meeting, but not revealing much else to the press, Argentine president elect Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner completed Monday, November 19, her first overseas visit in Brazil, a strategic ally and partner for Argentina.

Accompanied by the heavy weights of the current and future cabinet plus some new faces such as Economy minister Martin Lousteau, the day visit to Brasí­lia included a two-hour closed-doors meeting with President Lula.

After the meeting and taking no questions Mrs. Kirchner said that "we've honored our word that the first protocol visit to a head of state as elected president would be here in Brazil."

"We've reviewed the bilateral relation in a very fruitful meeting and have decided to strengthen the regional block taking into account that the world is moving to an interaction of blocks," therefore the closer relation with Brazil and the regional block "is functional to current world reality."

Among things decided with President Lula the Argentine elected president mentioned the creation of a "bilateral commission" to review "both countries agenda and pending issues," which will meet twice annually alternatively in Argentina and Brazil.

The idea is to elaborate a "construction methodology" in which bilateral issues are discussed by "specific points and not by ministries" as currently happens.

"On my proposal we've decided that the commission agrees on targets and objectives, with timetables, so that good intentions don't turn into "reunionism" (meetings' galore) as we call it in Argentina. We want specific results".

Cristina Kirchner underlined that "we must ensure that both societies have the perception that the integration process advances with concrete, quantifiable results that can be shown to the people".

Apparently the proposed commission will be formally presented at the coming Mercosur summit to be held December in Montevideo, capital of Uruguay.

Before leaving Mrs. Kirchner described Brazil as "the brotherly country" and emphasized that "with no doubt" the meeting with Lula was "most fruitful and very successful". With this visit and understanding "we're also ratifying that Argentina belongs to the region."

The heavy-weight ministers that will make up the hard core of Mrs Kirchner cabinet, at least for the beginning, and whom also traveled to Brazil included cabinet chief, Alberto Fernandez; Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Taiana; Planning minister Julio De Vido and Defense minister Nilda Garré.

In anticipation of the visit Brazilian press reports said that the president Lula's administration views the electoral victory of Mrs. Kirchner "as logical and a continuity" of the current process.

This means that both countries continue to face as their major challenge energy shortages which demand "joint actions" as well as "coordinated negotiations with third parties particularly Bolivia."

The Brazilian press also mentioned that the Kirchner project insists in the "reindustrialization" of Argentina in which Brazil plays a leading role, and in spite of a 40% revaluation of the Brazilian currency in the last three years, Argentina has been unable of mounting an infrastructure to take advantage of such conditions.

South America's leading economy continues to have a comfortable trade surplus with Argentina.

Other trade issues are more specific and refer to some hurdles that respond to domestic market interests but which affect bilateral relations.

Finally there's the ongoing initiative that never manages to take off, to have bilateral trade billed in Argentine pesos and Brazilian Reais.

But overall the fact that Mrs. Kirchner and her cabinet chose Brazil and the pragmatic leader Lula as their first reference could be indicative of continuity but with a more touch of class in international relations and less eclecticism.



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