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Trump greeted with fierce bear hug from Javier Milei backstage at CPAC

‘He’s a great gentleman ... he said ‘I am Maga’ then I realized these are the few [who] can really do it,’ former president says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Sunday 25 February 2024 00:07 GMT
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Trump greeted with fierce bear hug from Argentina president Milei backstage at CPAC

Donald Trump was greeted by Argentinian President Javier Milei with a massive bear hug backstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Trump aide Dan Scavino Jr tweeted a clip of the interaction shortly before 4pm on Saturday, when both Mr Trump and Mr Milei spoke at the conference.

Mr Trump welcomed Mr Milei during his speech, saying “we have a tremendous group of dignitaries, leaders, world leaders and local leaders ... from all over the world people with us right now at this moment in the room and just mentioned ... [the] President of Argentina who's gotten a lot of publicity”.

“He's a great gentleman ... he said ‘I am Maga’ then I realized these are the few [who] can really do it,” he added. “We’ll make Argentina great again – Javier Milei – Thank you very much.”

President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador spoke at CPAC on Friday, meaning that two of Latin America’s top rightwing populists joined the conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

Other rightwing leaders, such as Viktor Orbán of Hungary and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, have spoken at the conference in previous years. This year also saw former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss join the event.

Mr Milei hosted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Buenos Aires on Friday just a few hours before the president was flying to the US to speak at CPAC.

The Argentinian leader is courting both the current and previous administrations as the US could be important to the success of his own administration as the chainsaw-wielding, dog-cloning eccentric character tries to pull his nation out of a deep economic crisis.

The US is the largest foreign investor in Argentina and the third-largest trading partner – in addition to wielding the most influence over the International Monetary Fund, to which the South American nation of 46 million people owes $40bn.

As the meeting with Mr Blinken got underway on Friday, Mr Milei said: “Argentina has decided to return to the side of the West, to the side of progress, to democracy and, above all, freedom.”

Mr Blinken was asked about Mr Milei’s plans to attend CPAC.

“That’s entirely up to him,” the top US diplomat said, according to The New York Times.

But about the meeting with the Argentinian president, he said he “could not be more pleased, on behalf of President Biden, with the meeting we just had”.

Mr Milei is attempting to build a relationship with Mr Trump as well as the Biden administration even as he rails against the international left, arguing it’s harming the West with socialism and social justice.

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