March 30, 2016 / 4:57 PM / in a year

U.S., Argentina push new cooperation in Washington talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives to attend a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba's President Raul Castro in Havana, Cuba March 21, 2016.Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday welcomed Argentina's "restoration" under new center-right President Mauricio Macri and said he looked forward to collaboration on the economy, energy, climate change, trade and regional issues.

Last week on a visit to Argentina, U.S. President Barack Obama praised Macri's reforms after years of tensions when leftist populist Cristina Fernandez was in office.

"We very much welcome Argentina's restoration of its own engagement in politics in so many different issues on energy, on human rights, on environment, on trade," Kerry said at the start of talks with Argentina's new foreign minister Susana Malcorra in Washington.

In Buenos Aires, Obama announced an agreement in which the United States would declassify secret military and intelligence documents about the 1976 coup that installed right-wing military rule.

Kerry said he looked forward to signing the agreement in New York on April 22. State Department officials clarified later he was referring to the Paris climate agreement. Argentina has said it plans to strengthen the national climate plan it submitted to the United Nations.

Malcorra said her government was interested in the "human rights aspect" of the secret documents to be handed over by Washington.

In an era when Cold War thinking often put Washington behind right-wing governments in South America, the United States initially backed the 1976-1983 dictatorship, during which as many as 30,000 people were killed.

"President Macri has defined very clearly that Argentina has to insert itself into the international arena to play the role it has historically played," Malcorra told Kerry. "We feel that the United States is a key partner in that and we plan to have a serious, predictable and intelligent relationship with you."

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by David Gregorio and Grant McCool

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