(Bloomberg) -- Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi wants to deepen ties and trade with Mediterranean countries such as Algeria and Libya, which are key partners in Italy’s rush to replace Russian energy imports. 

Draghi last month signed a deal to boost gas deliveries from Algeria and wants to enhance stability in Libya, once a key energy partner that has been beset by internal strife. Italy can become a crucial hub linking oil and gas reserves in Africa and the Mediterranean basin to the rest of Europe.

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“We need to strengthen energy cooperation among Mediterranean countries,” he said in a speech at the Ambrosetti Forum in Sorrento, Italy. “We want to accompany the energy transition in the whole region.” 

Italy plans to spend 1.5 billion euros ($1.56 billion) to modernize ports in the country’s south and to promote more trade in the Mediterranean. Draghi also vowed to work on increasing food supplies, as the stop of grain shipments from Ukraine is a threat for the “stability in Africa and the Middle East,” according to Draghi.

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