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June 24, 2017

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Putin, Kirchner seek 'multipolarity' in Argentina visit

BUENOS AIRES--Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Argentine counterpart Cristina Kirchner called Saturday for a multipolar world order as Moscow sought to boost ties with Latin America amid heightened East-West tensions.

Putin is on a six-day tour seeking to increase Moscow's influence in the region at a time when the Ukraine crisis has eroded Russia's relations with the United States and Europe to their lowest point since the Cold War.

His itinerary includes meetings with a string of leftist leaders critical of the United States and a summit of the BRICS group of emerging countries — an agenda that neatly aligns with his push for a multipolar world less dominated by the West.

Kirchner is meanwhile waging her own fight against Washington, battling a U.S. court ruling that Argentina must pay more than US$1.3 billion by the end of the month to hedge funds refusing to accept the restructuring of the country's defaulted debt.

Putin said Russia shared "a very similar, very close view of international relations" with Argentina.

He also voiced his support for Argentina's long-standing territorial claim to the Falkland Islands, the British territory it calls the Malvinas, which sparked a 1982 war between the two countries.

"We favor the principles of a multipolar world, which are equality, indivisibility and security. Russia continues to support the need to find a solution to the dispute over the Malvinas Islands at direct negotiations between Great Britain and Argentina," he said at a dinner in his honor.

The Argentine leader for her part insisted that global institutions must be overhauled and made more multilateral.

"We firmly believe in multipolarity, in multilateralism, in a world where countries don't have a double standard," Kirchner said after the pair toured the presidential palace in Buenos Aires.

"We need to globally regulate the flow of capital that has turned the world into a financial casino where many countries are drowning in huge debts."

She called for the next meeting of G-20 major economies to set a broader agenda that also targets global economic and financial regulation.

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