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Chilean Boric promises energy cooperation during trip to Argentina

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BUENOS AIRES, April 4 (Reuters) – Chilean President Gabriel Boric, visiting Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez on his first trip abroad since he took office last month, has pledged to work with his Trans-Andean neighbors on economic, energy and cultural issues.

“We have deeply shared challenges,” Boric said at a joint press conference with Argentina’s president in Buenos Aires.

Argentine Economy Minister Martin Guzman and Chilean Energy Minister Claudio Huepe Minoletti signed a joint statement on integration issues and bilateral energy cooperation.

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“Guzman and Huepe discussed the commercialization of natural gas, the Argentine export of LNG (liquefied natural gas) and oil, and the rehabilitation of the Neuquen-Biobio pipeline,” said a statement from the Argentine Treasury.

In the mid-2000s, after its own supply failed, the Argentine government halted crucial gas exports to Chile, triggering a diplomatic crisis.

In 2018, gas exports resumed. In January 2022, Argentine exports to Chile totaled $351 million – including LNG – while imports from Chile totaled $53 million, according to official data.

Boric and Fernandez, both on the left, also discussed politically sensitive issues, including the conflict with the Mapuche indigenous community that resides largely in Chile but also in Argentina, and Sergio Apablaza, a former guerrilla fighter detained in Argentina whom authorities Chileans want to extradite.

Chile is Argentina’s fifth largest trading partner and one of its main investors.

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Reporting by Nicholas Misculin; Additional reporting by Natalia Ramos in Santiago and Jorge Otarola in Buenos Aires; Written by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Paul Simao and Rosalba O’Brien

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