Argentina, Chile defuse spat, vow united fight against pandemic and recession

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Argentina, Chile defuse spat, vow united fight against pandemic and recession

FILE PHOTO: Chile's President Sebastian Pinera addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S.

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The leaders of Argentina and Chile have moved to defuse a recent diplomatic spat after officials in Santiago accused President Alberto Fernandez of "meddling" in Chile's internal affairs after he met with Chilean opposition leaders.

Center-left Peronist Fernandez and conservative Sebastian Pinera held a call on Monday, saying the neighboring countries would unite to face what they called the "dual enemies" of the coronavirus pandemic and economic recession.

"Beyond any difference, we must unite in these tough times that we are going through with the pandemic," the Argentine presidential office reported the two as saying in a statement.

Chile's Foreign Ministry said on Sunday it was "astonished" by comments made by Fernandez, who met with Chilean opposition leaders, encouraging them to "overcome their differences and return to power on behalf of Chileans."

Chile and Argentina, separated geographically by South America's Andes Mountains, are long-time rivals and have often been at odds politically. Pinera, a billionaire businessman, faced months of protests over inequality late last year.

On the 45-minute call, Fernandez told Pinera it was essential to support integration around Latin American, "with those two enemies that are common to the entire continent." He added he hoped to "embrace all Chileans in a hug."

"Let's maintain our good relationship, which is essential," Pinera replied, according to the Argentine statement.


(Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Leslie Adler)