Italy working with Spain on a treaty of enhanced cooperation

·1-min read
PMs of Italy, Spain and Portugal hold a joint press conference, in Rome

ROME (Reuters) - Italy and Spain are working on a treaty of enhanced cooperation for stronger bilateral relations, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Friday.

Writing on Twitter after meeting Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares, Di Maio said both countries confirmed their strong condemnation of the Russian war and support for the Ukrainian people.

In March, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said he had discussed with his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez the idea of building a gas pipeline between the two countries as part of plans to wean Europe off Russian gas.

Italy, which sources about 40% of gas supplies from Russia, has been scrambling to find alternatives and diversify its supply mix following the invasion of Ukraine.

Spain has the largest regasification capacity in Europe but transporting the gas into Europe across the Pyrenees has been a problem because of bottlenecks.

In efforts to cut its reliance on Russia, the Draghi government has signed deals in recent weeks to boost imports from several African countries.

Under a deal with Algeria, Sonatrach will gradually raise flows in the Transmed pipeline starting this year and reach 9 billion cubic metres of extra gas per year by 2023-24.

An Italian foreign ministry source denied press reports of tension between Rome and Madrid over fears higher flows to Italy could have a knock-on effect on supplies to Spain.

Relations between Spain and Algeria soured after Madrid moved closer to Morocco's position on Western Sahara. However, former Algerian energy executives and officials said the country was unlikely to use gas as a point of pressure.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante, editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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