Iran is involved in talks with Spanish companies to build a refinery in Algeciras, according to Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, José Manuel García-Margallo, who added the project was relevant to Madrid’s policies toward Gibraltar.
Sr García-Margallo was speaking in Brussels on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers after international sanctions against Iran were lifted at the weekend.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna confirmed on Saturday that conditions set under an international agreement last July had been fulfilled, paving the way for Iran to resume oil exports while recouping around 100 billion dollars in frozen assets.
Spain has played a key role in Europe’s dealings with Iran in recent months and is now working to reap economic opportunities that could impact directly on the Campo de Gibraltar.
“The possibility of Iran setting up a refinery in Spain, more specifically in Algeciras, is being studied,” he told reporters.
“This would contribute to creating jobs in the Campo de Gibraltar, which has been one of my concerns.”
Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, Sr García-Margallo declined to go into any detail on the talks, which he said were commercially sensitive and thus confidential.
He stressed the deal was not yet closed but added: “We will support this initiative in any way we can, be assured of that.”
The Spanish minister also said the project was directly relevant to Spain’s policies toward the Rock and the Campo, which has some of the highest unemployment levels in the country.
“You know that our strategy towards Gibraltar has various aspects and one of them is to create employment in the Campo de Gibraltar,” he said.
“Nothing would make me happier than to create jobs in Algeciras.”
FULL STORY IN TODAY’S PRINT AND E-EDITIONS