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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Argentina Turns to U.S. for Help

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina/WASHINGTON -- Argentina sought Monday to secure vital U.S. financial support while thousands of jobless protesters marched against a government caught between the demands of the International Monetary Fund and its recession-weary people.

With the sound of beating drums in the background, several thousand unemployed Argentines gathered by the presidential palace and blocked highways to demand jobs in the latest protest against President Eduardo Duhalde as he battles to jump start the economy after a traumatic currency devaluation.

IMF Managing Director Horst K?hler on Monday again urged Argentine authorities to develop a comprehensive and coherent economic strategy that the lender can back with new loans.

In Washington, Foreign Minister Carlos Ruckauf met with National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice in the first major, face-to-face diplomacy by the new Argentine government, desperate to win billions of dollars in International Monetary Fund aid to avoid a possible collapse of its banking system.

Duhalde, less than a month into the job, has pleaded for patience amid daily protests, and legislators are insulted and attacked by angry mobs blaming the four-year recession on politicians of any hue.

"[Duhalde] will have to choose between the policies of ... President George W. Bush and the Argentine people," said Luis D'Elia, a leader of the Argentine Workers Association, a militant unemployed group that organized Monday's march.

Groups of unemployed, led by cellphone-wielding militant organizers, have gained support as they block major highways in Argentina. On Friday, tens of thousands of middle-class Argentines took to the streets to protest.

Duhalde, the fifth president since December, must persuade the IMF that the government will cut spending and will not place an unfair burden on foreign investors, who are expected to lose billions of dollars from the devaluation.

The government, worried strict fiscal policies could spark social upheaval, will be keen to avoid diplomatic mud-slinging with the IMF that has dominated the headlines this month.

"Argentina is a country that will comply with the rules of the game," Ruckauf told local media, adding that Economics Minister Jorge Remes Lenicov would travel to Washington to discuss the details of the government's economic plans.

Ruckauf also met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick on Monday, and the pair agreed to form a bilateral trade and investment council to resolve trade disputes between the two nations, officials said.

He was due to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill on Tuesday.