Argentina President Macri seeks 'pragmatic' relationship with U.S.

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Argentina’s President, Mauricio Macri, said on Friday he had told U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that his recently installed government was ready to build a “pragmatic, intelligent” relationship with Washington.

The Netherlands' Queen Maxima (L) is greeted by Argentina's President Mauricio Macri during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Argentine Presidency/Handout via Reuters

Relations between Argentina and the United States soured under the South American country’s former leader, Cristina Fernandez, who frequently railed against what she called bullying by greedy capitalist powers in her fight against U.S. creditors.

“We are ready to build a pragmatic, intelligent and productive relationship among our countries,” Macri told a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“We are ready to work together against climate change, drug trafficking, terrorism and corruption,” added Macri, who was elected last November on a center-right platform.

Asked if he was concerned by the presidential bid of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who has in the past opposed World Bank loans to Argentina over the country’s unpaid debt, Macri said: “Rubio’s position is related to past relations with the United States.”

Flanking Macri, Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay said he and Argentina’s central bank governor had met with the International Monetary Fund’s head Christine Lagarde to discuss an Article 4 review of Argentina this year.

Prat-Gay said the government would publish all the required economic data to enable a review. The last such review took place in 2006, during the presidency of Nestor Kirchner, Fernandez’s late husband.

Macri, who took office on Dec. 10, also said that both he and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff wanted free trade negotiations between regional bloc Mercosur and the European Union to advance.

The talks have languished for years, in part because Argentina has dragged its heels over which goods it wants included. More recently they have been snagged over when each side makes its proposals.

“We have spoken about the need to exchange proposals at the same time in the first quarter of this year,” Macri said. “I am optimistic we can move in this direction.”

Reporting by Richard Lough in Buenos Aires and Sujata Rao in Davos Editing by W Simon