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Zelensky attends Argentina's presidential inauguration as he courts Latin America's support

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) traveled to South America to attend the inauguration of the newly elected President of the Argentine Republic, Javier Milei (C), on Sunday. Photo by Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/UPI
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) traveled to South America to attend the inauguration of the newly elected President of the Argentine Republic, Javier Milei (C), on Sunday. Photo by Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/UPI

Dec. 10 (UPI) -- President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine attended the inauguration of Javier Milei as president of Argentina on Sunday, marking the European leader's first-ever trip to Latin America where he is courting support for in his war against Russia.

Zelensky traveled to Buenos Aries at the invitation of Milei, a far-right libertarian and former political commentator, as the war in Ukraine nears two years old and as he seeks further support not only for his defense against Russia by for his 10-point plan for peace known as Ukraine's Peace Formula Philosophy.

"This is a new beginning for Argentina and I wish President Milei and the entire Argentinian people to surprise the world with their successes," Zelensky said in a statement online that accompanied a short video showing him embrace the newly inaugurated president of Argentina.

"I am also certain that bilateral cooperation between Ukraine and Argentina will continue to expand."

The trip comes at a precarious time in Ukraine's war with funding from its largest backer, the United States, in jeopardy as Congress debates President Joe Biden's emergency supplemental plan and as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban threatens to block not only billions in European aid to Ukraine but its bid for European Union membership.

In his nightly address, Zelensky told the people of Ukraine that he held discussions on bilateral cooperation with Milei and that while in Buenos Aires, he had talks with the leaders of Paraguay, Uruguay and Ecuador.

With Orban, who also attended the Milei's inauguration, Zelensky said they had a "highly straightforward conversation, focused on our European affairs."

During his trip, Zelensky also met with members of the Ukrainian diaspora in Argentina, and assured them that the support of their adopted country for Ukraine's war against Russia "will remain unchanged."

"Today, it is based on support for Ukraine, our sovereignty and territorial integrity and support for freedom," he said, according to a readout of the meeting provided by his office.

Zelensky added that his hope is Argentina's support for Ukraine would bolster political support for Kyiv throughout the region, and that Buenos Aries has confirmed it will support his peace plan, including by participating in a January meeting of national security advisors on its implementation.

"We aim to unite the voices of Latin America in support of Ukraine and our clear stance towards seeking a just peace and condemning Russian aggression," Zelensky said.

The inauguration occurred just days before Zelensky is schedule to arrive in the United States for a visit of the White House, his third since Russia invaded his country Feb. 24, 2022.

Biden has requested $111 billion package that includes tens of billions of dollars for Ukraine's defenses, but has been held up by Republicans who are demanding it include greater policy changes on the southern border.