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Spanish FM in Ecuador to Discuss Oil, Immigration


Spain's foreign minister is in Ecuador to try to resolve a tax dispute involving the Spanish oil company Repsol.

Miguel Angel Moratinos is scheduled to meet Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Foreign Minister Fander Falconi during his three-day visit.

Relations between Spain and Ecuador have been complicated in recent months by President Correa's demand that the oil company Repsol repay nearly $450 million in windfall taxes. Repsol is one of Ecuador's biggest foreign investors and operates three oil fields in the Amazon jungle.

Mr. Correa has threatened to freeze Repsol assets if it does not pay the debt this week. Repsol is challenging Ecuador's tax law in the World Bank's dispute court, the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Spain's foreign ministry says during Moratinos' visit, the countries are expected to sign an agreement to allow about 300,000 Ecuadoreans to participate in Spain's municipal elections in 2011.

Spanish officials says Moratinos also will formalize a program that will redirect $30 million in Ecuador's foreign debt towards programs to rebuild its coast and support migrants.

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