Argentina’s Milei Heads to US, Invites Lula to Inauguration

(Bloomberg) — Argentina President-elect Javier Milei heads to the US on Sunday night while his incoming foreign minister traveled to Brazil to invite President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to the Dec. 10 inauguration.

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Milei’s delegation will meet with officials from the US Treasury, the White House and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, according to a text message from a Milei spokesperson. The purpose of the meetings is to explain the incoming administration’s economic plan including the fiscal adjustment, monetary reform, state reform and deregulation. The delegation is not seeking financing on this trip, according to the spokesperson.

The President-elect suspended the trip as of Thursday, according to a campaign spokesperson, after saying he planned a “spiritual” trip to the US before the inauguration.

On Sunday, Milei envoy Diana Mondino visited Brazil to invite Lula to next month’s inauguration in Buenos Aires. Mondino, Milei’s incoming foreign minister, met in Brasilia with Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira, to whom she handed the invitation for Lula.

“The main message is that we are brotherly countries, and we will continue to be so,” Mondino told reporters after the meeting. “We have to work hard together to make both countries grow.”

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Milei is softening his aggressive rhetoric toward trading partners such as China and Brazil after calling Lula a “communist with whom he wouldn’t deal” in an interview with Bloomberg News. After winning election, Milei told local TV that Lula would “be welcome” to attend the inauguration. Lula has not yet decided whether to attend, his government said.

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“It’s one thing to criticize the ideology and another to criticize the person. That’s totally different,” Mondino said. “We have to separate state, government and people. The partnership will continue better and as quickly as we can.”

Lula put relations with Argentina on hold to understand the incoming Milei administration’s plans for its relationship with what is its largest trading partner in South America.

Mondino, speaking alongside Vieira, said that trade agreements should be signed between the Mercosur bloc and the European Union “as soon as possible” and, eventually, with other countries such as Singapore.

The two did not discuss the BRICS grouping, Mondino said in response to a reporter’s question, adding that she doesn’t know what advantages the bloc could offer Argentina. “We already work with practically all the countries” in the group, Mondino said.

Milei will be joined on the US trip by sister Karina Milei, potential cabinet chief Nicolas Posse and adviser Santiago Caputo.

(Updates with trip details in second paragraph, names of delegation members in final paragraph)

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