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Trump gives 'dirty war' records to Argentina's leader

Argentine President Mauricio Macri at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires. (AFP / Getty Images)
Argentine President Mauricio Macri at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires. (AFP / Getty Images)

President Trump on Thursday handed over to Argentine President Mauricio Macri a trove of declassified documents from the South American nation's military-led "dirty war."

The documents contain hundreds of pages of presidential notes, CIA memos, FBI reports and other records that in many cases chronicle human rights atrocities committed by Argentine military officials when they ruled the country from 1976 to 1983.

The dirty war was backed at least tacitly by U.S. officials during that era, historians say. An estimated 30,000 dissidents were killed, and untold thousands of children were kidnapped.

President Obama, during a visit last year to Buenos Aires, said he would give Macri the now-declassified material. Trump, receiving Macri Thursday at the White House, made good on Obama's promise.

It was the third batch to be released as the U.S. government gradually declassifies the material and came at Macri's request, the White House said.

The National Security Archive, a nonprofit organization that examines once-secret papers, welcomed the decision to release more information, saying it both helps to set the historical record straight and shows what U.S. officials knew at the time but often ignored.

It published several of the documents released Thursday, including one in which State Department officials described the notorious Operation Condor campaign by the secret police services of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay in the 1970s to hunt down and "liquidate" opponents across international borders.

In another document, from 1977, State Department officials questioned whether they should continue to work with those same countries' security services, given the egregious human rights abuses committed by them.

Thursday's release "is another positive act of declassified diplomacy that began with Obama and is continuing under the Trump administration,” the National Security Archive's Carlos Osorio said in a statement.

“Historical accountability continues to play an important role in current U.S. foreign relations,” he said.

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