Argentina’s Milei meets Trump after hosting Biden officials


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Argentina’s libertarian leader Javier Milei and former US president Donald Trump have met for the first time, celebrating a shared goal of combating socialism even as Milei courts support from the Biden administration for his economic plan.

Trump and Milei, who have previously traded friendly messages on social media, both addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland on Saturday.

“He’s Maga. Make Argentina Great Again,” Trump said of Milei in his speech. “I realised he’s one of the few who can really do it well.”

In a video of the two leaders meeting backstage, posted on X by a Trump adviser, an exuberant Milei thanks the former president “for all [his] work” and says: “I hope to see you again and the next time I hope you will be president.”

Milei, a political outsider who won a shock victory at Argentina’s 2023 election on a pledge to solve the country’s dire economic crisis, has said the US will be one of Argentina’s main allies under his government. He badly needs support from the US as the largest stakeholder in the IMF, as it weighs whether to eventually lend more money to Argentina, already its largest debtor, to support Milei’s reforms.

The day before his meeting with Trump, Milei hosted Antony Blinken, secretary of state to President Joe Biden, in Buenos Aires.

At a press conference after the meeting, Blinken praised Milei’s efforts to stabilise the economy, which centre on slashing spending to eliminate the fiscal deficit at the root of Argentina’s 250 per cent inflation, as “​​absolutely vital.” He said he “could not be more pleased” with their meeting.

Asked about Milei’s plans to meet Trump, Blinken said: “That’s, of course, up to him.”

At the same press conference, Argentina’s foreign minster Diana Mondino denied that Biden and Milei, who rails against the concept of social justice and has called climate change “a socialist hoax”, made for uncomfortable allies. “We live in a very complicated world, we all need to work to common objectives,” she said.

The CPAC appearance was Milei’s second trip to the US since winning November’s presidential election. He did not meet Biden on either occasion.

In 2021, when Milei was working as an economist and television pundit prior to entering politics, he supported Trump’s claim that the 2020 US election was stolen from him.

On the campaign trail last year Milei earned repeated comparisons to Trump for his anti-establishment rhetoric and lack of political experience. Milei was a congressman for two years before becoming president.

The leaders’ CPAC speeches underscored their different political styles and priorities, however. Trump’s included a series of personal stories and focused largely on US culture war issues including migration. Milei’s was an academic lecture on the functioning of markets and the “anarcho-capitalist” ideology he champions.

Milei has previously said in interviews that he mainly shares with Trump the goal of opposing socialism — a message he returned to at the end of his CPAC speech on Saturday.

“Don’t let socialism advance . . . don’t let the siren calls of social justice woo you,” he said. “I come from a country that bought all of those stupid ideas, and from being one of the most affluent countries in the world now we rank 140.”

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