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Obamas Cap Day in Argentina with Tango

  • VOA News

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama do the tango with dancers during the State Dinner at the Centro Cultural Kirchner, March 23, 2016, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama do the tango with dancers during the State Dinner at the Centro Cultural Kirchner, March 23, 2016, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

U.S. President Barack Obama has capped off a day in Argentina with an appearance at a state dinner -- where he reluctantly danced the tango in front of Argentina's new president and hundreds of guests.

Obama was attending the dinner with his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, as the guest of President Mauricio Macri, who has signaled his intent to develop warmer ties with the United States and other free-market economies.

After a day of meetings, entertainment at the state dinner included a performance of Argentina's signature dance, the tango -- and the two performers made sure both Obamas got into the act. The male-and-female couple each took one of the Obamas for a few rounds on the dance floor despite the president's protests. The Obama's good-natured efforts won applause from their fellow dinner guests.

WATCH: Obamas tango with Argentine dancers

Earlier in the day, Obama praised the President Macri's enthusiasm for engaging with the U.S., after years of strained ties between the two countries.

Macri said the Obamas' visit came "at a perfect time" because, he said, "Argentines have understood and decided to built mature and reasonable relationships with every country in the world."

At the root of the difficulties between Argentina and the United States is the U.S. support for a brutal military regime that controlled Argentina from 1976 to 1983 during a period known now as "the Dirty War." An estimated 30,000 people disappeared or were killed during that time.

The Obamas' visit coincides with the 40th anniversary Thursday of the coup that led to the Dirty War. They are expected to mark the event with President Macri at the Parque de la Memoria, a memorial park for the victims that lies along the River Plate.

Later in the day, the Obamas will travel to the southern resort city of Bariloche, far from the protests planned in Buenos Aires.

Critics of the president's visit, which include many who lost friends or relatives in the Dirty War, say the Obamas should not have come to Argentina on such an important anniversary.

Evidence of U.S. support for South American dictatorships has been public knowledge for more than a decade. But the United States announced last week, at the behest of the Argentine government, that it will declassify even more military and intelligence documents linked to Argentina's Dirty War.

White House aide Ben Rhodes said last week that the president believes "moving forward in the Americas or any other part of the world involves a clear-eyed recognition of the past."

The president's trip to Argentina comes on the heels of a historic visit to Cuba, the first by a sitting U.S. president in almost nine decades. During his meeting with President Raul Castro, Obama called on the U.S. Congress to lift the decades-long trade embargo on Cuba.

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