DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) -Argentina’s libertarian President Javier Milei met British foreign minister David Cameron on Wednesday and was set for a head-to-head with IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva in Davos, where he is pitching his plans for austerity and deregulation to fix the South American country’s economic crisis.
The trip marks a diplomatic test for right-wing Milei on his first overseas tour since he took office last month, following a rapid ascent for the relative political newcomer, who made his name as an acid-tongued economist and TV pundit.
“It was an excellent meeting, very cordial,” Milei said after his meeting with Cameron, according to a readout shared by his office. “We talked about deepening commercial ties, the support they will give us in the IMF and how to promote British investments in Argentina.”
His planned meeting with the IMF follows an agreement reached last week with the lender’s staff over the latest review of a troubled $44 billion loan programme, which should unlock a more-than-expected $4.7 billion, after the previous government missed various economic targets linked to the funding.
Argentina and Britain have a longstanding foreign policy conflict over the sovereignty of the British-run Falkland Islands, where they fought a brief war in 1982. Argentina’s government said the topic was raised without adding details.
Argentina has long sought to restore negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands, which Argentina calls Las Malvinas, but Britain has said that was not on the table for as long as the island’s inhabitants wanted to remain British.
En route to Switzerland by commercial jet, self-described “anarcho-capitalist” Milei said he was attending the forum to “plant the idea of freedom in a forum contaminated by the 2030 socialist agenda”.
Milei’s foreign minister Diana Mondino will also meet Cameron, as well as the foreign ministers of the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Lithuania and the Swiss secretary for economic affairs, according to her agenda.
(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee in Davos, Adam Jourdan in Buenos Aires; Editing by Alex Richardson)