BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez will begin an overseas tour on Tuesday including visits to Russia and China, a trip that comes amid tensions over a possible conflict in Ukraine and in the wake of a breakthrough in debt talks with the International Monetary Fund.
The center-left leader, who is battling to revive the grains producing country’s economy and replenish dwindling foreign currency reserves, will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Argentina’s government said.
Fernandez also will travel to Barbados, where he will meet with Prime Minister Mia Mottley. He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero and other officials, while Economy Minister Martin Guzman will join the Russian leg of the tour.
Tensions between Russia and the West have risen over a potential military conflict in Ukraine. Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, though denied plans to invade.
China is a major buyer of Argentine soybeans and beef and also has a major currency swap deal with the South American country, which helps to bolster its foreign reserve levels.
Fernandez will hold a private meeting and a working lunch with Putin in the Kremlin on Thursday, Argentina’s government said, which would be followed by a joint statement to the media.
The Argentine leader will then travel to Beijing for the opening of the Winter Olympics. He will carry out activities including being given an honorary title by the prestigious Tsinghua University and laying a wreath at Mao Zedong’s mausoleum.
Fernandez, facing splits in his own ruling coalition over a debt restructuring deal with the IMF, is set to meet with Xi on Sunday. He will also visit a technology center of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Paul Simao)