An official Iraqi daily called Saturday for OPEC unity in the face of pressure from the United States, which it accused of working against the interests of the oil cartel's members.
"Out of concern for the unity of OPEC, we renew our warning against US strategy which aims only to serve American interests to the detriment of those of crude-producing countries," said the government daily Al-Jumhuriya.
"Countries which in a servile manner carry out US policy within OPEC are destroying the national interests" of other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, it said.
"Each party should act in keeping with its own interests and free of pressure," the paper said ahead of OPEC's meeting in Vienna on June 21st.
Iraqi oil minister Amer Rashid already announced June 6th that Baghdad would oppose any decision to raise oil production at the Vienna meeting, despite current high prices.
Baghdad is an OPEC member but exempted from production quotas because of an embargo in force against it since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. It is authorized to export crude under UN supervision to finance imports of essential goods.
Iraq, although it opposes an OPEC increase in output quotas, exports some 2.5 million barrels a day and aims to raise that level.
It has obtained a waiver from the organization due to the UN embargo imposed on the country since 1990.
In the United States, the Energy Department said Friday it had authorized half a million barrels of crude oil to be taken from the US emergency oil inventory to prevent a shortfall in petrol supplies.
The price of vehicle fuel in the United States has risen dramatically, as crude prices have increased in recent weeks. A gallon (3.8 liters) of gas costs 50 percent more than it did a year ago.
Crude oil prices are approaching levels that could have negative consequences for consumers and producers alike, the White House warned on June 13th - BAGHDAD (AFP)
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