(AFP, TEHRAN) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami called on OPEC member states Saturday to "act with solidarity to hold to a reasonable level both the production and price of oil."
"I believe that there are hands looking to create a gap between supply and demand, to cause a fall in prices and thereby bring about irreparable harm to producer countries," Khatami said during a meeting with Venezuelan Oil Minister Ali Rodriguez, who is president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Khatami said the "move is political and not economic, and that is why the member countries of OPEC must act with solidarity to hold to a reasonable level both the production and price of oil."
The Iranian president called on all OPEC members to "avoid any influence coming from outside" the cartel and to "defend the ... decisions taken within the organization."
Khatami added that Iran "defends with sensitivity the petroleum revenues of member countries" and "strives to maintain prices within an acceptable margin."
Rodriguez, who arrived in Tehran Friday night, underscored the "need for a greater consultation" among OPEC countries.
He gave Khatami an invitation to a meeting of OPEC heads of state planned for September in Caracas.
On Thursday, Khatami spoke with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez by telephone, expressing support for Caracas' reticence toward an OPEC production hike to bring down global prices.
Rodriguez is nearing the end of a tour of OPEC members designed to poll their views on the state of the market and on whether there is any need to hike output.
He has already visited Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq and, following his visit to Iran, will move on to Libya and Nigeria.
On July 3, Saudi Arabia, the world's largest producer of petroleum, said it was considering increasing output by 500,000 barrels a day.
But the idea of a production hike does not seem to have generated a consensus among OPEC members, and Rodriguez said on Friday that there would not be an extraordinary meeting of OPEC ministers in Vienna next week as had been announced in Kuwait a day earlier.
Iran, which is OPEC's second largest producer with output of 3.7 million barrels per day, of which nearly two thirds goes for export, opposes an output hike even though it is heavily reliant on oil revenues.
It puts the price surge over the past few months down to "the needs of the American market" and to speculative trading, which has been increasingly in evidence on the crude market
© Agence France-Presse
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )