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Cuba supports Argentina's oil firm takeover

(Xinhua)

12:49, April 21, 2012

HAVANA, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Cuba on Friday expressed support to Argentina for its decision to expropriate a majority share of Spanish-owned oil company Repsol YPF, saying it is lawful.

Argentina has the "right to exercise permanent sovereignty over all its natural resources," the Cuban Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the country's official daily Granma.

On Monday, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez announced a bill, under which Argentina would expropriate 51 percent of YPF stakes.

Cuba voiced "its full solidarity with Argentina," saying the move "is protected by international law and related decisions adopted on numerous occasions by the United Nations General Assembly."

The statement noted that YPF used to be a state-owned company before former Argentine President Carlos Menem, who was in office from 1989 to 1999, sold it along with many other companies in deals far below market value.

Cuban First Deputy Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Antonio Carricarte said Tuesday that the expropriation would not affect Cuba's cooperation with Spain's Repsol for offshore oil exploration in Cuban waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Cuban industry experts believed that Cuba has about 20 billion barrels of oil in its Exclusive Economic Zone in the gulf. Repsol is its key partner in oil exploration in the region.

Argentina's decision also won support of Venezuela and Nicaragua, among other Latin American nations.

But it has not only angered Spain but also Mexico, which has shares in Repsol through its state-owned oil company Pemex.

The Mexican government has described the decision as "regrettable."

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