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    Argentina's President Mauricio Macri and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shake hands at the Olivos Presidential Residence in Buenos Aires, Argentina February 5, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 February 2018

Tillerson arrived in Argentina Saturday after visiting Mexico as part of his Latin American tour.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Argentine President Mauricio Macri are meeting in Los Olivos, Buenos Aires, to discuss Venezuela, bilateral trade and regional issues, such as drug trafficking.

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Tillerson arrived in Argentina Saturday after visiting Mexico as part of his Latin American tour. The U.S. official is slated to discuss Venezuela with regional leaders as part of a foreign policy campaign against the South American country.

While their meeting is private, a press conference is reportedly set to take place afterwards.

Macri has said before that he doesn't support economic sanctions on Venezuela that would hurt its citizens, but still opposes President Nicolas Maduro's democratically-elected government. They're expected to discuss a different strategy for a “peaceful transition.”

Argentine exports of meat and biodiesel into the United States is another issue to be discussed along with regional security and drug trafficking.

On Sunday, Tillerson met with Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie. In a press conference, they both agreed on promoting regime change in Venezuela and declared that they were studying the possibility of sanctioning Venezuelan oil, prohibiting its sale or refining in the U.S., but feared that it would hurt citizens, as all other imposed sanctions already do.

Tillerson praised Argentine leadership for “promoting democracy” in the region.

“We don't recognize the political process and the authoritarian drift in Venezuela, and we don't recognize the existence of the Constituent Assembly,” Faurie said during the press conference.

Just last week, as Tillerson said Washington wasn't advocating for regime change or Maduro's removal, he raised the possibility of military action against Venezuela, making a reference to coups enabled and promoted by the U.S. in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia, to name a few.

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“In the history of Venezuela and in fact the history in other Latin American and South American countries, often times, it is the military that handles that,” Tillerson said.

Still, his Latin American tour shows another face, as he's looking for regional allies to get in line with Washington's foreign policy regarding Venezuela.

Regarding his comments, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray has already stated that Mexico wouldn't back any non-peaceful plans to "resolve the case of Venezuela,” declaring instead that it's up to Venezuelans themselves to “find a peaceful route, a peaceful solution to this crisis.”

After his visit to Argentina, Tillerson's next stop is Lima, Peru.


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