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Spanish, French, Portuguese Truck Drivers Step Up Fuel Protests

Truck drivers in Spain, France and Portugal are stepping up protests over rising fuel prices, as demonstrations spread Monday across Europe.

Traffic backups were reported in Madrid and Barcelona, as truckers pushed their demands for gas price relief and other drivers topped off fuel tanks in anticipation of gasoline shortages.

Protest actions also snarled traffic at main border crossings between Spain and France. French television showed trucks backed up several kilometers near the southern French city of Bordeaux, after Spanish protesters at the nearby border smashed windshields on trucks attempting to enter Spain.

Separately, Reuters news agency says Portuguese truckers threatened to block roadways to Algarve, a popular tourist region, to prevent goods from reaching the area.

Meanwhile, French fishermen from Mediterranean ports today suspended their three-week fuel price protests.

The French news agency AFP says the protests, which blocked key ports and fuel terminals, were suspended ahead of a June 23-24 meeting of European fisheries ministers, who are set to discuss fuel proposals.

French fishing fleets at the Atlantic ports of Calais, Dunkirk and Boulogne-Ser-Mer called off their protests last week, to await the outcome of the ministerial talks.