Arab row stalls Saudi OPEC plan

Saudi Arabia's master plan for linking oil prices to currency and other economic fluctuations was stalled Monday by negative votes from three hard-line Arab states, Iran, Libya, and Algeria, fueling turmoil at a crucial OPEC oil cartel meeting.

The split between moderate and hard-line Arab states over the Saudi-sponsored strategy plan was augmented by strife between Iraq and Iran, including, according to conference sources, a demand by Iran that the coming OPEC summit be moved from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The issue of prices and production cuts, the double-edged sword OPEC wields in the world's economy, will be postponed until the final day, the Saudi oil minister, Sheikh Ahmad Zaki Yamani, said.

The Saudis are willing to consider raising their oil price by $2 to $4 a barrel and chopping current production of 9.5 million barrels daily by as much as 1 million barrels, conference sources said, but only if OPEC takes steps to narrow the present price gap.

Shortly before the meeting in Vienna, the authoritative Middle East Economic Survey said that the Saudis, the top suppliers of US imports, had firmly decided on such a production cut for Oct. 1 but that it might be in question. The reason, according to the Survey: Saudi Arabia's exasperation over barbed criticism of its policy from revolutionary Iran.

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