Argentina's Milei says Spain's Sanchez brings 'death and poverty' after drug use jibe

Argentina's President Javier Milei attends a business event in Buenos Aires

By Ana Cantero

MADRID (Reuters) - Madrid and Buenos Aires traded barbs on Saturday after Spanish Transport Minister Oscar Puente suggested Argentina's President Javier Milei was a drug user.

Puente, during a panel discussion in Salamanca on Friday, suggested Milei had ingested "substances" during last year's election campaign.

Milei's office released a statement on Saturday condemning the remarks while also attacking Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

It accused Sanchez of "endangering Spanish women by allowing illegal immigration" and undermining Spain's integrity by making deals with separatists, while his leftist policies brought "death and poverty".

That provoked a rebuke from the Spanish Foreign Ministry, which said the terms used in the Argentine statement "do not correspond to the relations between the two brotherly countries and peoples".

Following the election of Milei, a right-wing populist who took the helm in December, relations between Argentina and Spain, ruled by a left-wing coalition led by Sanchez's Socialist Party, have significantly cooled.

Milei has publicly supported Spain's far-right anti-immigration Vox party.

(Reporting by Ana Cantero; editing by Andrei Khalip and Jason Neely)