Antony Blinken
The U.S. Secretary of State AFP

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to South America on Tuesday, where he is set to meet the presidents of Brazil and Argentina and attend a gathering of G20 foreign ministers.

Blinken will be in the region between February 20 and 23. According to the Department of State, his conversation with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will mainly revolve around the countries' partnership for workers right and cooperation on energy transition.

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols said he expected a "robust" conversation on issues of global peace and security between the delegations. "I think it's going to be a dynamic conversation," Nichols told reporters in a phone briefing reported by Reuters.

Lula's take on global peace and security jumped to the top of the global conversation in the past hours, as the Brazilian president was declared persona non grata on Monday, following statements in which he compared Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip to the Holocaust.

The diplomatic clash began on Sunday with Lula's statements in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, where he was attending an African Union summit. "What's happening in the Gaza Strip is not a war, it's a genocide," he said, adding that a "war between a highly-prepared army and women and children" didn't have precedent in history except for when "Hitler decided to kill the Jews."

President-Elect Lula Da Silva Meets President of Superior Electoral Tribunal in Brasilia
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva Andressa Anholete/Getty Images.

That led the government to call the Brazilian ambassador in the country, Federico Mayer, to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem. There, Foreign Minister Israel Katz told him that Lula is "persona non grata in Israel until he retracts his statements." Later, Lula recalled his ambassador to Israel for talks, Reuters reported.

Following the G20 meeting, Blinken will make his way to Buenos Aires to meet with recently sworn in Javier Milei, a right-wing economist who is implementing a shock therapy aimed at stabilizing the country's ailing economy.

According to the Department of State, Blinken and Milei will discuss "sustainable economic growth, our shared commitment to human rights and democratic governance, critical minerals, and enhancing trade and investment."

Milei, on his end, has been making international headlines as the country's economy continues to spiral. After climbing to the top of the somber global inflation ranking, with a rate of over 250%, a non-governmental report showed that the poverty rate reached 57.4% in January.

Javier Milei
Javier Milei AFP

According to the Argentine Catholic University's respected Social Debt Observatory, it's the highest figure since 2004, when the entity started publishing reports. A few years earlier, in the aftermath of Argentina's economic collapse in 2001, the Centro de Estudios Distributivos, Laborales y Sociales said that 66% of Argentines were living under the poverty line.

"Our perspective is that this will keep getting worse in February," the observatory's Director Agustín Salvia told the Buenos Aires Herald. "The crisis is about to explode in systemic terms."

According to the report, poverty rose from 44.7% in the third quarter of last year to almost 50% in December before soaring to 57.4% in January. Milei has rejected any responsibility for the jump, claiming the entire blame falls on the previous government's reckless public spending.

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