Argentina's Fernandez, in Russia, says must end economic 'dependence' on U.S., IMF

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez said on Thursday during a visit to Russia that his country must abandon its economic "dependence" on the United States and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Less than a week after Argentina agreed with the IMF on a new $44.5 billion standby deal, a major breakthrough in tense talks to restructure loans the country cannot repay, Fernandez met his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Kremlin to strengthen bilateral cooperation and trade relations.

"I'm certain Argentina has to stop being so dependent on the Fund and the United States and has to open up to other places, and that is where it seems to me that Russia has a very important place," Fernandez said during his meeting with Putin.

Fernandez said when his Peronist political coalition was in government between 2003 and 2015 it sought to release Argentina from the "grip" of its relationship with Washington and the IMF, but that the subsequent government of former President Mauricio Macri again deepened those ties.

His visit comes as Ukraine says Russia has positioned 115,000 troops near its borders, stoking fears of a looming attack. Moscow denies any such plan but international concern that Russia might be gearing up for war is running high, stoking tensions with the United States.

Putin thanked Fernandez for Argentina's widespread use of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19.

Fernandez is scheduled to visit China next, where he will participate in the official opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, and on Sunday will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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