Kirchner thanks opposition for support over YPF

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner defended the expropriation of oil company YPF, a subsidiary of Spain's Repsol, and thanked opposition groups for support of the move.

Kirchner rallied supporters at a Buenos Aires football stadium on Friday, marking the ninth anniversary of the election victory of her late husband Nestor Kirchner (president 2003-2007), and hailed the move as positive for the country as whole, despite a harsh reaction from Spain and European Union.

"I thank the opposition for their support for the recovery of YPF. This is not the work of a party -- it's by all Argentines and for all Argentines," she said.

Argentina's Senate on Thursday approved the government's move to nationalize YPF. The bill is now in the hands of the Chamber of Deputies, which is expected to approve it on May 3.

The takeover is popular in Argentina, where it is supported by both the government and the opposition.

Argentina announced it would seize 51 percent of YPF shares earlier this month, with some 26 percent to be held by the federal government and 25 percent going to the provinces.

Madrid has led a chorus of international outrage over the move, saying it harmed bilateral relations and would deny Argentina much-needed foreign investment and expertise in the oil sector.

YPF produces 34 percent of Argentina's oil and 25 percent of its gas, and the company holds some 54 percent of the country's refining capacity, according to the private Argentine Petroleum Institute.

Buenos Aires has accused Repsol of failing to invest in its oil sector, forcing a spike in costly imports.

Argentina's oil imports doubled to $9.3 billion in 2011 from the previous year and are set to top $12 billion this year, according to official figures.

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