US Diplomat Mends Fences With Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- The top U.S. diplomat for Latin America signaled a thaw in relations with Argentina on Thursday after meeting with President Cristina Fernandez.

U.S. relations with Argentina have been tense since U.S. prosecutors in December implicated the president's election campaign in a corruption scandal.

Thomas Shannon, U.S. assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, also urged Argentina to repay some US$6 billion (euro3.7 billion) in defaulted loans owed to the so-called Paris Club of 19 creditor nations after a 2002 economic meltdown.

"Argentina has always been an anchor of stability and democracy in this region and we know that to have good relations with Latin America, we need to have good relations with Argentina," Shannon said.

Fernandez took office only days after U.S. prosecutors said a suitcase filled with nearly US$800,000 (about euro500,000) intercepted in Argentina was brought from Venezuela as a campaign contribution intended for Fernandez's campaign.

Fernandez blasted the accusations as slanderous and accused the U.S. of "garbage operations" against her government. At the time, Shannon called Fernandez's words "regrettable and not positive."

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