Presidents and sovereigns of OPEC member states expressed confidence their Caracas summit would strengthen the oil-producing cartel, which has come under international pressure to help bring prices down.
"We will make OPEC strong," Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo said upon arrival in the Venezuelan capital on the eve of the summit, only the second in the 40-year history of the cartel.
"We will ensure stability of the price of oil," he told journalists.
The Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, for his part, said the dignitaries would discuss issues that were certain to boost the role of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC.)
"It is my own conviction that this conference will boost cooperation amongst our countries with a view to achieving the common wealth and interests of our nations and meeting their lofty aspirations," he said.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the presence of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdel Aziz guaranteed the success of the summit.
Asked what he expected from the gathering, the Saudi dignitary just smiled and asked his host, who welcomed him on arrival in Caracas, to answer the question.
"I am very happy that Prince Abdullah is here," Chavez said. "To have him here is without any doubt a guarantee of the triumph of this summit, a summit for unity, and to relaunch OPEC," the Venezuelan president said.
Officials for the 11-member oil producing cartel have said the gathering would discuss long term plans for OPEC but would not address oil prices and production.
Chavez said OPEC wanted "fair prices: nothing less and nothing more."
Echoing comments by a number of OPEC officials, Chavez said that high oil prices were due mainly to external factors, such as speculation, and that increasing production was not the solution as there was already more oil on the market than demand warranted.
OPEC president, Venezuelan Oil Minister Ali Rodriguez said markets had been oversupplied by two million barrels a day since April, leading to a buildup of crude in storage that could cause prices to drop in the second quarter of next year.
Rodriguez added, however, that it was premature to decide production cuts. "We are going to observe the performance of the market and take decisions when it is opportune and necessary," he said.—AFP.
©--AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE.