BAKU (AFP) – Greece’s state-owned gas company DEPA is negotiating deals to re-export natural gas from the Caspian Sea state of Azerbaijan to Western European countries, a senior manager with the company said yesterday. Vassilios Tsombanopoulos, general manager of DEPA’s strategic planning division, said Italy and the western Balkans were the markets being targeted as destinations for the Azeri gas. «Greece wants to be a transit country for Caspian gas,» he told a conference in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku. «There are… plans to transport the gas to Italy and at the same time to the western Balkans as far as Slovenia.» Tsombanopoulos said that by 2010, Greece planned to be exporting between 2 and 4.8 billion cubic meters of Azeri gas to Italy a year. An international consortium, led by oil major BP, has committed itself to building a pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Turkey to export gas from Azerbaijan’s massive Shah Deniz offshore gas field. This pipeline is then expected to link up with another planned pipeline, joining Turkey and Greece. Tsombanopoulos said the link would start operation by the end of 2006.