US, Argentina leaders hail "new beginning" after difficult past

Visiting US President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he hoped to rebuild the trust with Argentina that was lost during a military dictatorship 40 years ago, and that human rights and foreign investment would anchor future ties.

Hosting the US leader in Buenos Aires, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri said it was time for more "mature and intelligent" relations between the two nations.

A coup on 24 March, 1976 marked the start of Argentina's last military dictatorship and US involvement in the South American regime's Dirty War against mostly left-wing opponents.

US military and intelligence records related to the period would be declassified, Obama said during a press conference with Macri.

"On this anniversary and beyond, we are absolutely determined to do our part as Argentina continues to heal and move forward as one nation, and I hope this gesture also helps to rebuild trust that may have been lost between our two countries," he said.

Obama will lay a wreath at a memorial to the victims of the 1976-83 dictatorship during his visit.

He stopped short of apologizing for US support for the junta led by Lieutenant General Jorge Rafael Videla, but noted a change in US foreign policy over the intervening decades with an increased focus on transparency and human rights.

"We have learned some of the lessons that we may not have fully learned at an earlier time," he said. "I think our experiences with a country like Argentina helped us to develop that more mature, and ultimately I think, more successful approach to foreign policy."

Macri said it was too soon to judge the results of the document release, noting time would be needed to read through the US files.

Obama's message came on the second stage of a two-part trip that saw him deliver a similar message in Cuba, where he declared an end to Cold War-era divisions with the communist island off the southern US coast.

Obama praised actions taken by Macri, who took office in December, during his first months in office to enact reform and position Argentina as a leader in the Western Hemisphere.

Human rights and foreign investment would be the basis of "a new beginning" for ties between the two countries, Obama said at a gala dinner.

The leaders discussed barriers in trade between the nations, but said it was too soon to consider a possible trade agreement.

Obama declined to comment on an agreement with bond holders of Argentine debt because of pending legal questions. Argentina reached an agreement last month with a group of US hedge funds that sued the nation in connection with the country's 2001 debt default, but the deal still must be approved by Argentina's parliament.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25
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