Hats off to Argentina!

The global financial crisis, increased bilateral trade and energy cooperation were on the top of the agenda as Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on Wednesday.

“Our relations cannot only be limited to trade, although ties between our countries and our private enterprises are highly important,” said the Argentinian leader at a news conference following the meeting. “We should also shape our policy together on the basis of our vision on how we see our emerging new world. Political issues can be as important as economical ones. In fact, these areas are closely related.”

According to a joint statement released after the talks, “the presidents spoke in favour of continuing to reform international financial organisations with the aim of making their work more prompt and efficient.”

The leaders also expressed “deep concern” about the ongoing financial crisis and agreed that the international currency system should be reformed, the statement said.

It's a high-powered visit for the South Americans who are keen to explore trade opportunities. More than a hundred leading Argentinean business figures were with their president for the country's first state visit to Russia in ten years.

Trade between the two nations increased fivefold over the past four years. In 2007, turnover between the two amounted to $US 1.36 billion. In the first eight months of this year that figure stood at $US 1.33 billion.

“It seems that by the end of the year we will reach $US 2 billion,” President Medvedev told journalists. He stressed that energy co-operation is also an important part of the countries' relations.

“We have every possibility to develop cooperation in the gas industry, including building a new gas pipeline, which would link Argentina and Bolivia,” he said. “It's an interesting project. Hopefully, we will agree on the details and it will be implemented on a large scale. It will help our Latin American colleagues to settle problems they face.”

Wednesday saw not only business and politics discussed by the two leaders. Dmitry Medvedev presented his Argentine counterpart with a silver-fox hat. During Medvedev's visit to Venezuela last month, President Hugo Chavez told the Russian leader during a news conference that Fernandez de Kirshner was an “extraordinary woman.”

“She's a real sword of a woman. Give her a fur hat when she comes to Moscow,” Chavez proposed. And Medvedev seems to have followed the advice.

2010 will mark the 125th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Wednesday’s meeting is further evidence of Russia’s policy of increasing contacts with Latin America. At the end of November, Medvedev toured Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, and Cuba.