BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) -Chilean President Gabriel Boric, visiting Argentine President Alberto Fernandez on his first trip abroad since taking power last month, vowed to work with his cross-Andean neighbors on economic, energy and cultural issues.
“We have challenges that are deeply shared,” Boric said at a joint news conference with the Argentine president in Buenos Aires.
Argentina’s economy minister, Martin Guzman, and Chile’s energy minister, Claudio Huepe Minoletti, signed a joint declaration addressing issues of integration and bilateral energy cooperation.
“Guzman and Huepe discussed the commercialization of natural gas, the Argentine export of LNG (liquefied natural gas) and oil, and the rehabilitation of the Neuquen-Biobio pipeline,” a statement from the Argentine treasury said.
In the mid-2000s, after its own supply faltered, the Argentine government cut off crucial gas exports to Chile, triggering a diplomatic crisis.
In 2018, the gas exports resumed. By January 2022, Argentine exports to Chile totaled $351 million – including LNG – while imports from Chile totaled $53 million, according to official data.
Boric and Fernandez, both leftists, also discussed politically sensitive issues, including conflict with the Mapuche indigenous community who reside largely in Chile but also in Argentina, and Sergio Apablaza, a former guerrilla in Argentine custody who Chilean authorities want extradited.
Chile is Argentina’s fifth-largest trading partner and one of its main investors.
(Reporting by Nicholas Misculin; Additional reporting by Natalia Ramos in Santiago and Jorge Otarola in Buenos Aires; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Paul Simao and Rosalba O’Brien)