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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Spain-Portugal 'merger' derided
Jose Saramago
Saramago won the Nobel prize for literature in 1998
Portuguese Nobel laureate Jose Saramago's suggestion that Portugal will one day become part of Spain has provoked controversy.

The author's comments have been criticised by Portuguese commentators and fellow artists.

"I think we'll end up by integrating," Saramago told Lisbon's Diario de Noticias newspaper.

He said he believed Portugal would become a province or autonomous region of its larger neighbour.

The author of The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis added that "Spain is likely to change its name and call itself 'Iberia'", but said the Portuguese would not "transform ourselves into Spaniards".

The former Portuguese ambassador to Madrid, Antonio Martins da Cruz, was outspoken in his criticism of Saramago's comments.

He told Diario de Noticias that Iberianism was simply not an issue today.

He said Saramago "knows about literature" but "should leave politics to the politicians and strategy to the strategists".

Saramago, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1998, has lived on the Spanish island of Lanzarote for the past 10 years.

He reportedly married Spanish journalist Pilar del Rio at a ceremony in her home town of Castril, near Granada, on Monday.

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