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Argentine President Rents $880,000 Jet for Cuba, Asia Travel

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Argentina is renting a jet so President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner can avoid the threat of having her official plane seized by defaulted bondholders during a tour of Asia that will begin with a stop in Havana to see ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Fernandez rented the plane for $880,000 instead of using the president’s Boeing 757 aircraft at the recommendation of the Foreign Ministry, the government said today in a statement on the presidential website. The decision follows a legal battle with Ghana after the African nation detained an Argentine naval ship for 10 weeks as part of a dispute with investors holding bonds from the country’s 2001 default.

Fernandez’s agenda has her arriving in Cuba on the same day the cancer-stricken Chavez was supposed to be in Caracas for his inauguration to a third six-year term. Bolivian President Evo Morales was rebuffed in his effort last month to visit the 58-year-old leader, who hasn’t been seen in public since just before undergoing his fourth cancer-related surgery in Havana about a month ago.

“Fernandez will depart on Jan. 10 directly to Havana,” Paula Chain, a spokeswoman at the presidential palace said today in a phone interview from Buenos Aires. “The president will try to visit President Chavez.”

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said the Jan. 10 inauguration date in the constitution is a “formality” and that the swearing in can be done at a later time.

After Cuba, Fernandez will continue on to the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Indonesia, Chain said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pablo Gonzalez in Buenos Aires at pgonzalez49@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net; Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net

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