BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s new President Javier Milei met with his Armenian counterpart Vahagn Khachaturyan and called for closer ties between their countries ahead of his inauguration ceremony held on Sunday.

Khachaturyan was among a handful of foreign leadersy who attended the ceremony held in Buenos Aires. According to the Armenian presidential press office, he was the first of those dignitaries to be received by Milei in his new capacity.

“I have been to Armenia and am familiar with Armenia,” the office quoted Milei as saying. “I am confident that we will further deepen our relations.”

The Armenian president, likewise expressed confidence that the two governments “will do everything to raise the Armenian-Argentinian relationship to a higher level.” He thanked Argentina for its “support that has been shown to Armenia in recent years.”

During the meeting, President Vahagn Khachaturyan invited Javier Milei to Armenia on behalf of himself and the Prime Minister of Armenia, in response to which the President-elect of Argentina stated that he would be glad to visit Yerevan if possible, thereby further contributing to the strengthening of relations between the two countries.

Khachaturyan held a separate meeting with the South American country’s outgoing President Alberto Fernandez and gave him an Armenian state medal, the Order of Honor. Fernandez has repeatedly denounced Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin corridor that preceded its September military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia has long maintained warm relations with Argentina as well as neighboring Brazil and Uruguay cemented by the existence of influential Armenian communities in the three nations. There are an estimated 120,000 ethnic Armenians living in Argentina. Most of them are descendants of survivors of the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.

The most prominent Argentinian of Armenian descent is Eduardo Eurnekian, Argentina’s fourth-richest person whose Corporacion America group runs 53 airports in and outside the country and also has a wide range of other business assets. Milei worked for the conglomerate from 2008-2021, eventually becoming its chief economist. Eurnekian reportedly backed his former employee’s presidential bid. An Argentinian lawmaker quoted by the Financial Times in September described the 90-year-old billionaire as Milei’s “intellectual father.”

“I think Milei would be a very good president,” Eurnekian told the London-based paper at the time.

Corporacion America’s holdings also include Yerevan’s Zvartnots international airport. Eurnekian also invested in other sectors of the Armenian economy in the early 2000s. In particular, he purchased an Armenian commercial bank and set up what is now one of the South Caucasus country’s largest wine companies.

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