U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and Argentine Minister of Defense Agustín Rossi met April 8, 2021, to strengthen bilateral cooperation between both countries and help in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
The meeting took place behind closed doors in the Libertador Building, headquarters of the Defense Ministry in Buenos Aires. Following the meeting, Adm. Faller presided over the donation of three mobile hospitals for the South American country.
“Since the COVID-19 crisis began, SOUTHCOM has worked closely with its Argentine partners,” Adm. Faller said in a statement.
“Together, we have delivered 15 COVID-related humanitarian assistance donations to support Argentina’s ongoing response to the pandemic, delivering much-needed protective equipment, medical supplies, and monitoring and screening tools,” the SOUTHCOM commander said.
For his part, Minister Rossi welcomed Adm. Faller’s visit to the country. “During the day, we will carry out a joint bilateral agenda consisting of meetings and cooperation activities,” Rossi said on Twitter.
Minister Rossi also spoke to the visiting delegation about the potential of the National Defense Fund, created in 2020 to upgrade the Argentine Armed Forces.
Cooperation against COVID-19
The U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires emphasized the commitment of the U.S. Department of Defense to cooperate in the fight against COVID-19.
“As the world’s largest contributor to the international response to the pandemic, the United States government is donating $3.5 million in COVID-relief supplies this week with more to come in the near future,” the U.S. Embassy said in a press release.
In addition to the three mobile hospitals, the United States donated oxygen generators and search and rescue equipment. “The donation includes training sessions for the recipients on maximizing the use of the field hospitals during disasters or pandemics,” the U.S. Embassy said.
Adm. Faller’s visit took place at a time when Argentina is experiencing a resurgence of the pandemic, which has infected about 2.5 million people and has claimed the lives of about 56,800 since March 2020, the agency AP reported.
During the bilateral meeting, the SOUTHCOM commander also briefed Minister Rossi on President Joe Biden’s position on China and Venezuela, the Argentine news portal Infobae reported.
This is Adm. Faller’s second visit to Argentina. In 2019, he met with then-Minister of Defense Oscar Aguad to address issues such as cyberdefense, narcotrafficking, and organized crime, the Argentine newspaper La Nación reported.