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US Expresses Confidence in Argentina's Democracy - 2001-12-22


The Bush administration is expressing confidence Argentina will surmount its current economic crisis with its democracy intact, but it is making no specific pledges of new economic aid.

Officials here are monitoring the Argentine crisis with deep concern but also expressing confidence that it will overcome the effects of the financial crisis that has pushed it to the brink of default on its foreign debt and the collapse of its decade-old effort to link its currency to the dollar.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher expressed satisfaction that the transfer of power from President Fernando de la Rua, who resigned Thursday, to his interim successor Senate leader Ramon Puerta had gone forward without incident, this, despite violence in the country earlier in the week that killed at least 25 people. "We're pleased with the orderly transition to date," he said. "We have confidence in the strength of Argentine institutions, which is a reflection of Argentina's standing as one of the Western Hemisphere's leading democracies. We want to see Argentina working with the international financial institutions to be able to work through this difficult situation in ways that lead towards sustainable economic growth."

Earlier, in an unprecedented move, President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Cretien and Mexican President Vicente Fox issues a joint statement expressing compassion and concern for Argentina and the hope that Argentines can come together to find a solution to restore the country's economic vitality.

But the neither trilateral letter nor the State Department's statement made any mention of new direct financial aid to Argentina, with Mr. Boucher urging the Argentine leadership to work closely with the International Monetary Fund on a recovery program.

In a talk with reporters at the White House, Mr. Bush said the IMF had made what he said were "very tough but very realistic and very necessary " monetary reform proposals which he hoped the new administration there would adopt.

He said he understood the IMF is willing to loan more money to Argentina once the austerity measures are put in place.

Officials here said the U.S. ambassador to Argentina James Walsh, who was home for the holidays, would return to Buenos Aires to meet the new caretaker President and other top officials.

The State Department meanwhile issued an advisory recommending that U.S. citizens consider deferring travel to Argentina until unstable conditions have improved.

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