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Germany, Italy hold talks with Saudi Arabia, Qatar to strengthen energy ties

Italy is looking for capital from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund for a new fund Rome is setting up to help domestic companies in strategically important sectors.
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud (L) shakes hands with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

Italy and Germany have been deepening business ties and have discussed this week energy deals with key Gulf countries as Saudi Arabia hosts the Arab League summit in Jeddah.

On Thursday, Italy’s Industry Minister Adolfo Urso in a statement called on Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to invest in a new fund Rome is setting up to support local companies in strategically important sectors, including energy and raw materials. Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has assets worth $607.42 billion, making it the sixth-largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, SWF Institute data from January revealed.

Urso had a video call with Saudi Arabia's Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih, the statement said, adding that the kingdom was ready to make more investments in Italy.

"Falih said he was willing to facilitate a reciprocal exchange of visits, both at government and business levels, and stressed that the Saudi sovereign wealth fund was ready to invest further in Italy," Urso said.

He added that he also spoke to his counterpart about collaborations involving hydrogen energy.

The fund will invest in “high-potential national enterprises" through financial vehicles or investment funds by state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), Reuters reported Thursday. The scheme will be approved by the Cabinet next week, the news wire reported, citing officials.

The Italian Treasury is understood to have allocated up to €1 billion ($1.1 billion) for the fund, to be paid in several installments.

The statement from Urso added that a Saudi Arabian delegation is expected to visit Italy in September.

Meanwhile, Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock this week visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia, where she held talks with her counterparts.

Baerbock met with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani on Wednesday, and the two officials signed a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of strategic dialogue between the two countries.

The Qatar News Agency reported that the two politicians spoke about various fields including energy, environment, education and regional security.

During a joint press conference on Wednesday, Thani told reporters that his country wants to enhance energy cooperation with Germany, including in energy transition and renewables.

In November, QatarEnergy and US company ConocoPhillips signed a deal to provide new flows of Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG) beginning in 2026. The deal will see 2 million tonnes of LNG flow annually from Ras Laffan in Qatar to Brunsbuettel in northern Germany.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and the West placed Moscow under sanctions, European countries have been looking to the Middle East and North Africa for new sources of energy to replace Russian gas and oil.

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