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Germany exploring trilateral gas solidarity deal with Italy, Switzerland

German Economy and Climate Action Minister Habeck holds news conference on the future use of LNG, in Berlin

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany is exploring a trilateral solidarity agreement with Italy and Switzerland to provide mutual support in the event of an extreme gas shortage, the economy ministry said on Tuesday.

"Minister (Robert) Habeck confirmed this yesterday evening in Davos after his talks with the Swiss Federal Council, a spokesperson for the ministry told Reuters, adding the agreement aimed to protect particularly vulnerable customer groups such as private households and social institutions in the case of a gas emergency.

With Russia reducing its gas exports to Europe's biggest economy, Germany has already agreed such pacts with Denmark, the Czech Republic and Austria, aiming to avoid a panic if a supply crisis were to occur.

However, Berlin was facing difficulties in getting European partners to sign these sharing gas agreements, the economy ministry said in September.

Welt newspaper cited disagreements over compensation Berlin would have to pay to its companies for expropriating their gas to offer to neighbours as the reason for stalling talks.

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Madeline Chambers)